Every once in a while something comes along to remind me how much I enjoy living in Lexington.
This video certainly doesn't hurt:
Actually, I don't have to be reminded about how much I enjoy living in Lexington. I've lived in six different towns — all of varying sizes — in four different states in the past 61 years, and none compares with Lexington, which I find to be New England quaint, Southern friendly and uniquely special. Living here just seems to come naturally for my aging soul.
I moved to Lexington from my Pennsylvania roots in September of 1976, so I'm celebrating my 36th year here. I can never be a native of the town, like my wife, but I certainly can be one of its ambassadors.
The video — I missed the original televised broadcast, so thank goodness for the Internet — shows not only how Lexington has changed in the past decade or so, but also its potential for the future. I hope I get to see some of this potential come to fruition in my lifetime, like Raymond Smith in the video has seen so far.
Does Lexington have problems? Of course. You can hear it on the street almost any time: there's no jobs, there's nowhere to eat if you don't want to suffocate in barbecue, the schools are inferior, there's no after hours entertainment options. Therefore, city hall is clearly filled with scoundrels.
If that's what you think, you aren't looking hard enough. I was surprised by the fact that nearly 200 businesses are located in a six-block Uptown perimeter with 94 percent occupancy. In an era of economic downturn, this is amazing. But you know, when I think about it, I don't see many vacant buildings on Main Street anymore.
Some of those buildings are being converted into second floor loft-type living quarters, so that's exciting. People are actually wanting to live in Uptown again.
High Rock Outfitters has brought us quality live entertainment on a regular basis, bringing in talent from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, even Asheville. I'd like to see Lexington gain momentum as a budding artist colony with perhaps other Main Street venues. Thanks to HRO for showing the way, the potential is there. I don't think the importance of what HRO has done for Uptown can be overstated.
The city's commercial heart beats with a healthy pulse, particularly around noon on Saturdays — about the time the vibrant Farmers' Market is finishing up for the day.
I live in a historic neighborhood with tree-lined sidewalks just a few blocks from all of this action. My neighborhood is loaded — totally out of proportion, by the way — with at least six teachers and former teachers, so I can hear firsthand how the school system is making strides. If it wasn't, they'd probably be leaving to teach in Chicago.
Several of my friends are on city council, including the mayor. Because I know them, I know their ethic and their concerns. Change doesn't come in the next five seconds, like most of us want. It may not even come in the next five years. It takes laying the groundwork. The changes we've already seen in this town were no doubt prepared for us years ago, back in the days when we were complaining there was nowhere to go.
But changes certainly will continue. I can feel it in the heartbeat.