This letter from South Main homeowner Rosemary Waldorf appeared on August 16th, 2012 in the Chaffee County Times. The full letter is published here with Rosemary’s permission as Times content is no longer available to the pubic without a subscription.
Since the late 1980s, my husband Gary and I have crossed the U.S. to vacation in Buena Vista perhaps 10 times. We love the small-town atmosphere and, of course, the glorious skies and exquisite mountains.
Last August we stayed for three weeks, hosting our grown sons and other family and friends. We admired many positive changes, such as the beautiful, pedestrian-friendly streetscape on Main Street. The galleries showcased impressive local talent and new businesses and restaurants thrived alongside old favorites.
We went to a Forum Series lecture, discovered your gem of a public library, thought Gold Rush Days was a blast, and joined the throng gathered to watch the cycling Pro Challenge whiz through town.
BV has lots to be proud of, most definitely including the South Main neighborhood, where in May we moved into our new townhome and are now happily part-time residents and taxpayers of BV.
The Buena Vista Arkansas River Park, which Jed and Katie Selby envisioned and then made happen, is an awe-inspiring legacy for BV citizens of today and tomorrow. What a gift, for so many people to be able to admire, smell, hear and touch that river.
I have had an unusual opportunity to learn about the development and design principles that South Main exemplifies. This is often called Traditional Neighborhood Development, or TND. The goal is to create a “new, old neighborhood” – similar to neighborhoods built before World War II, before the automobile gained such a powerful influence on neighborhood design.
In Chapel Hill, NC, I was elected to the Town Council in 1993, and served as Mayor of Chapel Hill from 1995-2001. During those eight years, my community reviewed and approved two of these “new” traditional neighborhoods. We learned a great deal about TND design and what does and does not work. Both neighborhoods were completed and are well-loved by those who live there. In fact, Gary and I live in one.
The South Main team deserves high praise for its neighborhood design and execution. All the details are right. They have created a neighborhood that feels comfortable and walkable, with narrow streets, sidewalks, and street trees in planting strips of exactly correct width. I’d bet that a hundred people walk past our front porch most days, heading to Eddyline or the river, or just walking their kids and dogs.
The mix of uses – residential, retail, restaurant, office – is well planned and well done. Many TND developers only dream of settings where people live above their work places, but here it happens. The public spaces – the village green, rock-climbing park and the new beach – are right-sized.
They are roomy enough to be functional but small enough to be inviting.
South Main’s attention to architectural detail is both exacting and inspired. They understand that details – windows, rooflines, porches, gardens – must work well together, all down the street, to make the neighborhood feel right.
The proximity of South Main to historic downtown Buena Vista will be beneficial. I can envision new businesses, residences and more civic uses locating on Main Street across from the elementary school. Such new development could use existing infrastructure and extend BV’s walkable Main Street to connect with walkable South Main.
One thing I know is that many developers have tried to create “new” traditional neighborhoods and failed. The South Main team is showing us that they can do it right, bringing a great asset to this special mountain town.
- Great Article on South Main in the Summit County Voice
- Why Traditional Neighborhoods Are Timeless
- 7 Reasons to Invest in South Main this New Year