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Springfield, MO

City Utilities was named 2016 Developer of the Year for its $4.4 million Transit Center project.
City Utilities was named 2016 Developer of the Year for its $4.4 million Transit Center project.

Opinion: Time’s now to create community around Springfield’s Transit Center

Posted online

Anthropologists and planners are continuously studying why certain places hold special meaning to people. Conclusions suggest this special meaning is created by locations that have a strong identity – a sense of place and character that is felt by residents and visitors alike. 

For many, Springfield’s renovated downtown area has this special feel. But what about the city’s new Transit Center?

Most residents and visitors currently see the center as nothing more than a brief stop on the way to another destination. Yet, the possibility exists for the center, and the surrounding area, to become a vibrant corridor. In other cities across America, development around transit has become a reality, and the same can happen here. 

The time is now for Springfield to realize the opportunity that exists in its backyard. The city can accomplish this by working to transform its Transit Center [at College Street and Main Avenue] into an active, engaging area that connects individuals and neighborhoods by offering access to products, services and greenspaces. Rather than simply serving as a place to transfer buses, the site has the potential to become part of a true ‘destination’ where individuals can meet for coffee, grab groceries or take time out to relax and unwind.

This type of “placemaking” is possible, but it must be viewed as a priority in our city’s future transit development plans. To help put the placemaking process in motion, the Missouri Public Transit Association is teaming up with City Utilities to host a community workshop on Monday, Aug. 7 [at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center]. Led by livability expert Nidhi Gulati, program manager for Emerald Network at Livable Streets Alliance in Boston, the workshop will provide local stakeholders and MPTA annual luncheon attendees with the opportunity to begin the discussion about development around the new Transit Center.

Whether you are a resident, elected official, planner or anyone interested in development around transit, this is a must-attend workshop. Advanced registration is required.

Together, we can begin looking beyond the trip from point A to point B and start creating a vision for transit development in Springfield that will transform our neighborhoods and connect our community.

Kelly Turner is transit director for City Utilities of Springfield and secretary/treasurer of the Missouri Public Transit Association Board. Kimberly Cella is the MPTA executive director.

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