Editorial, Local Politics

Editorial – Why Gardendale is Winning the Race

When I was growing up, I would often hear “older folks” say that “things were better back then.” I, of course, rolled my eyes. But as I have grown a little older, I have come to realize that they were not wrong.

One of the things I miss is an actual newspaper. Believe it or not, for our younger readers, people actually got their news every morning from a printed and delivered to your home newspaper. It opened people up to the world and they read it and talked to each other about what was being reported in it.

Having a newspaper was important for a city back in the day.

It is also important to note that reporters and journalists didn’t tell you what to think. Instead, they investigated stories and dug up the facts and then wrote about them in a way that let the reader make up his or her own mind about what to think about what was being written about.

Sadly, we have lost this to generations.

It’s every bit the reason that Gardendale News was founded.

Every newspaper had an “editorial” section as well. Editorial sections are where the publisher (or a guest) can provide opinion articles.

Below is the very first editorial in the Gardendale News.

Why Gardendale is Winning

I haven’t lived in Gardendale all my life, but as a 20-year resident now I believe I have enough time put in to make a few observations about our progress and leadership. Many things have changed and stayed the same over the last 20 years and if I have heard someone complain by saying “the old guard” once, I have heard it 1,000 times.

I am old enough now to probably be thought of by younger people in that “old guard” conversation.

There are a few things I have learned along the way from “young guard” to “old guard.”

First, it’s not really about age, it’s about wisdom and vision. Regardless of a leader’s age, he or she needs the vision to understand how to build the city in a way that preserves its values while becoming inviting for young people to stay and not leave for other places.

That sounds easy. It is not.

Every city needs new business and new residents to grow. That isn’t just for the sake of adding more people to the city. If we want more restaurant choices or other businesses to open in Gardendale that keep us from having to drive 30 minutes to go get something, that comes from a vibrant city with solid planning.

For the last few years Gardendale has seen growth. I would call it a controlled growth and if we look close enough we can actually see a vision and plan. There is an actual “method to the madness.”

That can be hard to see sometimes when it happens over time and in pieces.

Gardendale has become the “medical hub” of North Jefferson County. Not just UAB, but all types of medical practices. This development can be easily overlooked, but it is a major accomplishment that doesn’t just “happen.”  It takes vision and planning. While this may not increase the sales taxes, it does several things that are very good for Gardendale.

First, it enhances the overall reputation of the City of Gardendale. That is important for our leaders as they pitch businesses to come into the city. Secondly, it brings people, and those people eat at our restaurants and shop at our stores. This, in turn, gives our leaders an even better pitch to bring in more retail.

I hope that some of those shops and restaurants are opened by current Gardendale residents. That is also great for our community.

But its not just about bringing the people we may think of in terms of patients coming to those medical offices and hospitals. Those offices and UAB also have staff, nurses and doctors that come into Gardendale each day and they experience our city.

It would be great for Gardendale if they decided to live here since they work here.

As I sat on Thursday at the Gardendale Planning and Zoning Commission meeting where discussion was centered around the proposed rezoning of 6.1 acres on Main Street into the zoning needed for townhomes, it became even more clear how vision is moving us in the right direction.

A property owner in attendance at the meeting questioned one of the owners of the developer, who will build the townhomes if they get city council approval, as to what the townhomes would cost when built.

He said that due to the “stringent” ordinances in place in Gardendale in how those would need to be built that each unit would be about $200,000 plus.

A $200,000 townhome could be considered a luxury townhome by many.

Why is this important? A few reasons.

Outside of more residential options for current Gardendale residents, it would be good for Gardendale if some of the nurses, doctors and employees of this “medical mile” Gardendale has built stayed here as well.

Luxury townhomes are a wonderful option to try to make that happen.

Building a city for growth can be like driving a race car. If you drive too fast and reckless, you bump into another car and spin into the wall.

Great drivers, like great city leaders, control the car and have the vision to know how to maneuver through the field and the track to have an opportunity to win the race.

Great race car drivers have patience and vision.

I have been impressed with Mayor Hogeland and a group of city leaders who have a vision to win. It doesn’t happen overnight and it hasn’t happened overnight.

Having the title of mayor doesn’t mean that you inherently understand how to drive the car.

We are very fortunate in Gardendale that we have a mayor that not only understands how to drive the car and shows patience while driving it, but also has a great vision for how to win the race.

Anthony Treye Hanner