What does success look like in Tryon?

Published 11:14 am Monday, May 18, 2015

By Mayor Jim Wright

Recently a person asked, “Why don’t you write a column about what success would look like to you?” I also asked the Tryon Daily Bulletin for permission to delay my article by a week to give us all the opportunity to experience the Tryon Downtown Development Association’s activities involving Phillip Walker.


I know many of you participated in those activities. I would like to thank TDDA and the Polk County Community Foundation for organizing and funding this important series of focus group meetings and the presentation of learnings at TFAC.


So here it is. To me, there are two kinds of success, behavioral success and physical success.


Behavioral successHow we treat one another


Diversity: It would be great to see more diversity of race, age and gender participation in activities, organizations and leadership in ways that reasonably reflect a relationship to their numbers in our community.


Civility: This was the subject of my column in January and had the biggest response to any column, so I won’t repeat it. If you need guidance on how to conduct yourself in any situation, just pause and ask yourself how you would want to be treated in the reverse of the situation.


Cohesiveness of focus: I would say to all of us, the town, county, TDDA, TTDA, arts/crafts/music organizations: There are things, like the streetscape of the business district, where all parties can work together more effectively to help increase the business viability of the town. These issues involve private property, public works and, in some cases, the state, for Highway 176. I also want to encourage everyone who can shop locally to look here first.


Cooperation: It took me a while, but I learned that more hands and heads can usually do better work. That means to me that once courses of action are decided on, everyone gets on board to complete the task. A dog sled cannot move if all the dogs pull in different directions. That applies to our town. We need to improve the process for reaching consensus and agree that, once one is reached, we will support it.


Talent: I also raise this issue frequently. One of the most valuable things about this community are its people and the skills and abilities they have learned over the years. We must use to the maximum the significant amount of talent the community has among its citizens.


Physical Success: What we and others see


Appearance: I am a broken record on this one. Whether we like it or not, the appearance of our town says something about who we are. We probably get lulled to sleep seeing patches of invasive vegetation and unsightly properties.


Others, seeing those things for the first time, might conclude a community that doesn’t do something about them might not care about issues beyond just appearance. All three of the major roads into our town still have many opportunities for improvement.


Town provided utilities and services: Our water and sewer systems are very old (that’s like telling a Canadian visitor to the Amazon, “It’s hot in the jungle!”). We need a sound financial plan to repair and replace the old infrastructure for that purpose. We also need to continue to look for ways to make our town’s other services more efficient. If we try to hold taxes to modest levels, we have to be more efficient or cut services.


Focused organizations: It is perplexing to have organizations competing with one another in the areas of arts/crafts/music/performing arts/film, etc. It seems to me we can support only so many cultural organizations. Head-to- head competition for our entertainment/arts dollars for multiple concert series, film series, and art classes will result inn some groups losing out over time. I would like to see the arts organizations focus on their individual core missions so direct competition from diverse groups is minimal. That would also help the for-profit businesses (like the local movie theater) to remain viable as well.


Economic development: In taking full advantage of our strengths I would hope to see: a compact, easy to walk downtown; a significant retail automobile and truck dealership; restaurants with alternate menus and price ranges; retail stores with a wide variety of products and services for local residents and visitors; comfortable places to sit and enjoy the beauty of our site in the foothills; well-maintained pocket parks for outdoor enjoyment; a greenway to walk between Woodland Park and the Vaughn Creek Greenway entrance; clean, available public restrooms; and a safe way to get to Harmon Field from the town on foot or bicycle. Several of these strengths are already available but a few are only concepts.


Again, I appreciate the time you take to read and consider these issues as well as any feedback you want to give me. As always, I appreciate the Tryon Daily Bulletin for publishing my thoughts.