Magazine article The Masthead

Editorial Pages Key to Urban Revival

Magazine article The Masthead

Editorial Pages Key to Urban Revival

Article excerpt

BLIGHTED CENTRAL CITIES can be made new again -- and editorial pages can help make it happen. That has been the story of the past decade in Denver. It was also the message of the NCEW convention panel discussion "Reinvigorating America's Cities."

The panel assembled in Coors Field -- Denver's emblem of downtown renewal -- to describe a transformation brought about through a blend of public and private investment. Public participation is crucial to renewal efforts, the panel said, and editorial pages are very important interpreters of that role to the voters.

Central to the change in Denver was the approval by voters in a six-county referendum of a one-cent sales tax, dedicated to scientific and cultural facilities such as the new downtown ball park. That vote was an example of a trend syndicated columnist Neal Peirce called "democratized development" -- projects so large and so important to a region that citizen/stakeholders must participate in them.

That won't easily happen unless strong, visionary elected officials show the way, the panel said. Editorial pages can help create an opportune climate for public leaders.

"This is a time when leadership easily gets rejected, when the level of criticism runs high," Peirce said. Editorial pages can buffer that criticism by focusing on policies, not personalities, and providing a perspective of history and competitive posture that readers otherwise might not have.

"Is public support of urban development a subsidy for the rich? Yes," Peirce said. "But after a half-century of systematic subsidization of the suburbs, we have to be open to the subsidy of central cities, to create an opportunity scenario for an entire region. …

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