On May 5, 1998, the Auburn City Council adopted a long-range plan for the city called Auburn 2020.

“Seven committees consisting of approximately 200 citizen volunteers, elected officials, and city staff spent much time and effort toward creating comprehensive reports that address the areas of education, growth and development, intergovernmental relations, transportation, utilities and technology, family and community, and public safety,” a city resolution signed by then-Mayor Jan Dempsey said. “These seven reports outline detailed strategies and goals to guide the decisions of the City Council aimed at making Auburn a better community through citizen involvement.”

Auburn has accomplished many of the “22 Goals for 2020,” which are listed on the city’s website along with the plan. Some of the goals include:

> Continue strong community financial support of the Auburn City Schools with the goal of retaining the reputation as one of the outstanding public school systems in the Southeast.

> Establish a community network of sidewalks and bicycle trails that will allow all citizens to use alternative modes of transportation.

> Construct a senior citizens center to house expanded programs for Auburn's seniors and a teen center for afternoon and evening recreation for Auburn teenagers.

Auburn 2020 has served the city well, and CompPlan 2030, adopted by the City Council in October 2011, provides goals, objectives and policies on areas such as future land use, natural systems, transportation, parks and recreation, public safety and historic preservation, through 2030.

That plan is designed to be evaluated and updated every five years.

It may be time for Auburn leaders to update both plans to help address the city’s remarkable growth.

Auburn is one of the most desirable cities in which to live in Alabama, as evidenced by population, commercial and industrial gains. Thousands of residents enjoy “The Loveliest Village” because it is not a big city, yet enjoys many amenities that larger cities do not have.

However, many people fear the city’s current growth could have long-term consequences. They cite recent and proposed developments near the heart of the city. A new apartment complex on Ross Street along with a proposed 75-foot, mixed-use development at the corner of Wright Street and West Glenn Avenue alarm many residents – especially those who have lived in Auburn for decades. We’ve published many of their letters on this page.

How does Auburn grow while retaining its character, its charm and its soul? It may be the most important challenge for current city officials. We encourage them to review the road maps that have been made in the past. A plan update may also be needed. (Auburn 2040?)

Mayor Dempsey’s words on page 2 of the 2020 plan remain true today: “ Auburn, Alabama, is a very good community. We have the opportunity to make it even better. Its excellence in the future depends upon the goals we establish today and implement tomorrow.”

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