While discussions are ongoing on the density expansion in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, a chapter of the proposal has to include WIFI service.
The idea of increasing the construction density in town demands solid consideration for downtown Fernandina Beach as it actually may help reviving downtown’s commerce if residency and commercial use density pick up, especially for pubs and coffee houses. As it is, the 2005 establishment of the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), has seen little activity in the 5 years since.
It may not come as a surprise either that the Historic Downtown Business Association is a strong proponent for increased density as it is sometimes depressing to see how little commerce goes on in a beautifully dressed up downtown area, especially at night. With more people living downtown, the obvious result would be more activity and more activity attracts people from other areas of the island. People attract people.
There are however a couple of side notes, based on experiences (score cards commissioner Poynter calls it) over the years in other comparable communities. First of all, the influx of an older population on a downtown community. Mostly older couples move to downtown areas because of the convenience of nearby necessities, medical assistance, pedestrian access and entertainment. If residential density is to increase than the need for buildings with elevators becomes essential. Protected and well lit parking areas is also an absolute must.
When reading that there are voices leaning towards trying to attract younger people to live in the Historic District, I must say that is an expensive pipe dream. Over and over again this has proven to be unachievable. Young people want space, a yard for their children and pets, a car parked in a driveway or on the street in front of their living quarters. And they want to party and be noisy when they want to and that in itself seems to be an ongoing issue in our downtown area. A Historic District is not about low income living, it’s about high end attraction. Downtown needs to be a magnet, not a future dumpsite.AND….in addition, today’s young people want the ultimate service of communications, which would entail the entire downtown district on WIFI. Fast, convenient and reliable. So cities are lucky when it comes to that, like Topeka Kansas, the fibre optic center of the US, that is changing it’s name to Google, Kansas (http://www.lastclicknews.com/city-of-topeka-becomes-‘google’-city-for-march-101021.html) for the month of March.
Come to think of it actually, last week when I had a meeting at Amelia’s Best Coffee, I noticed a couple advance-aged in their seventies with a laptop on the table, planning something or another. The scene reminded me that the fastest laptop market growth is among seniors.
No matter what downtown Fernandina is doing density wise, a phone call to the local WIFI provider to discuss Free Downtown WIFI internet would set the district far ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting vacationers and downtown dwellers.
My native city of Heerlen in the South of the Netherlands just introduced free WIFI service in the old city district on February 26. The first reports are that business has increased 24% in the past 10 days. And it’s cold and wintry there.