News and Tribune

Columns

June 4, 2014

ANDERSON: Great things in our town

— The past two weeks have been the most exciting I personally have ever had In Jeffersonville. The opening of the bridge has brought people to our town with a wonderful sense of sisterhood and excitement.

Everybody is talking about the “bridgewalkers” ... even the bridgewalkers. The news is good because people are excited, having fun, exploring our town like it is a newfound treasure.

As I sit at Perkfection and people come in they inevitably want to know when things open, what the concerts are like, where you live, and isn’t it wonderful to have such a great town with so much to offer and such a nice, calm sense about it.

That’s what they all say. So far, no complaints other than: We need water; where are the bathrooms?; and it will be nicer when the park is done.

It is an exciting time for those of us who live here, too. Our downtown is busier than I have seen it in many, many years. Last Saturday night, the traffic was actually backed up on Spring Street. The walkers have expanded their boundaries as well, as they are walking down blocks no one dreamed they would tread upon because they are fascinated by feel of our town.

They see people walking, biking, churches on many corners, and kids everywhere. They like Olde Towne Grocery and they love Schimpff’s.

The bidgewalkers talk of the great prices at our restaurants and the friendliness of the people in our community. They enjoy that the most — the friendliness. People talk to each other, they seem to share something with each other and they seem to be willing to share it with us.

I recently ran into Jay Ellis from Jeffersonville Main Street Inc. and likened it to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz as she found the field of poppies and Oz. She was fascinated by the beauty of it and the welcoming of those who opened their arms to her. In Jeffersonville, it has been fun to be a part of it by just being here.

I have tried to look at our city through their eyes since the opening of the bridge. What do I see? A lot of good things — new restaurants like Red Yeti Brewing Co. and the Olive Leaf Bistro. A renewed energy in the businesses already here, as they change their venues, hours and offerings to draw in the many bridgewalkers.

Perkfection is staying open until 8 Thursday through Sunday now; Schimpff’s is closing at 5 on Saturdays; Lavender Hill leaves the open sign out; Sugar Maples folks linger and talk with the walkers almost like a welcoming committee. Claudia and Choices will be having longer hours, as are others. It’s all in an effort to grow Jeffersonville in a positive and energetic way.

I also see how far we have to go. We have to finish the things we have started a little more expeditiously, we need almost a welcoming wagon or vendor at the foot of the bridge with water and a friendly face as the bridgewalkers come over. We need to plan for those who will discover and fall in love with our town, and they will.

As more people are on our streets, we will have to be more diligent in keeping the streets cleaner and the trash cans picked up. I am sure all of that is being discussed, but right now it seems to be dragging a bit.

As we “perk” up the town we have to “perk” up our attitudes as well. People love the warmth of our community — it is something I have heard repeatedly from the bridgewalkers. It is something we should also give to each other, a warmer more positive approach to life.

We have so much here, really. Free concerts at both ends of Spring Street, fairly safe streets, a wonderful farmers market on Saturdays, people who give generously to support what they believe in and even more importantly, people who reach out to those in need of support for whatever reason.

We have the opportunity to grow our community in a quiet, respectful way. It is a calm and easy life over here — one that can be strong and healthy for everyone who wants to be a part of it. It could be of those bridgewalkers, some people just starting their careers and their adult lives looking for a more serene setting than that of our urban sister, and some from those coming home to retire or return to family.

It is really a test for our town. How will we handle the changes in traffic? Will we adapt to the new people in town? Will the entire community become as enthusiastic as the downtown dwellers are? Where do we go from here?

It truly is an exciting time, full of potential, full of fun and full of a huge bunch of people walking around in wonderment. How cool.

 — Barbara Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email at barbanderson_1@yahoo.com

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