If you could redesign the city of Oshkosh, how would you lay it out? I was thinking about this last night as the City Council heard from people complaining about how construction of a CVS Pharmacy was going to "ruin their neighborhood". (Nevermind that their "neighborhood" includes an interstate frontage road where commercial development is to be expected.) When the Chicago fire destroyed much of that city, it was seen as a major disaster. But when looked at through the prism of history, the fire was actually a benefit to Chicago--as it gave planners a "clean slate" to better organize development from that point forward. So if Oshkosh was wiped out and had to be rebuilt, where would you put everything?
The first area to consider would have to be the riverfront. I think it's safe to say that all of the manufacturing plants would be moved out to industrial parks west of Highway 41 and north and south of the current city limits. That way, they could be replaced by senior living apartments, assisted living centers and riverfront condos. We could move the convention center and hotel over to the spot where the WalMart used to stand so it could have the much-needed interstate access and proximity to the airport as well. That space could then be used for senior living apartments, assisted living centers and waterfront condos. And I'm afraid we would probably lose Lakeshore Golf Course--as that property is far more valuable for use as senior living apartments, assisted living centers and waterfront condos.
We could return Main Street to a residential district, relocating the boutiques to a mini-mall out by the interstate where people could actually find them and park near them. All of the historic buildings could be converted to senior living apartments, assisted living centers and heart of the city condos.
The Oshkosh School District could save millions by building just the number of elementary schools that are actually needed to serve the modern population of children. And the high schools could be relocated to provide more balanced enrollment at both.
We could also realign the railroad line that runs through the city--putting it farther to the west--so trains don't rumble through neighborhoods in the middle of the night--and so lakefront property south of the river can actually be developed into senior living apartments, assisted living centers and waterfront condos.
And based on the complaints I saw last night, we can remove all of those "nuisance" businesses located in existing neighborhoods--creating all that traffic and noise and light. Gone would be the corner bars and restaurants like Jansen's or Mahoney's. No more gas stations and convenience stores where people live--those should be out by the all the stores on the frontage road. Granted, that will make them less 'convenient"--but you don't want anyone encroaching on your serenity.
That redesigned Oshkosh would be a veritable "Utopia"--where neighborhoods are preserved and no one is inconvenienced by modern development or people driving down their streets. Everything would be perfect....well, until the DOT comes in and puts roundabouts everywhere.