Better East Texas: The time to revitalize downtown areas is now - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Better East Texas: The time to revitalize downtown areas is now

(KLTV) -

It was pointed out to me that some significant transformations are taking place in downtown Tyler. I am not talking about the two overhead cranes, although they are quite a sight. I am referring to the coordinated effort by Smith County government to acquire and efficiently move into improved buildings in downtown.

For many years, most of the management team and many workers, including the Smith County Sheriff’s department were officed in the old Carlton Hotel building. The building became woefully inadequate and most county governments would have had to live with the inadequacy and the challenges that come with that. Well, Smith County has been on a mission over a number of years to purchase rundown, dilapidated buildings and renovate them, and move county offices outside of the Carlton.

It has made for a more campus-like setting and is a better use of buildings because the remodels have helped county employees meet the current needs of citizens, while not being locked into yesterday’s facilities. The Carlton is up for sale and who knows where that could lead. I make the point about this renovation process and challenge smaller cities to consider following suit.

You can drive through just about any of our smaller East Texas cities and downtown is usually suffering. Retailers have moved out and there is little central draw back to downtown. The time is right for city and county governments to consider doing what they can to revitalize our other downtown areas. It may be with improved government offices, favorable zoning for residential development or it may be a public-private venture. Either way, elected officials can lead the way. Our communities need this and it will make for a Better East Texas.

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