I continue to read with interest any word on improvements to downtown Atascadero, which in recent decades is only exceeded by Grover Beach in failing to take advantage of its assets.
Both of late, however, have made efforts to beautify their signature districts and make them more inviting to visitors.
And the key to both has been efforts to mitigate the impacts that occur when a thoroughfare plows through your downtown.
Grover Beach recently finished streetscape improvements to Grand Avenue, and Atascadero has been tinkering with its own aesthetics — in bits and pieces — for the last several years.
The latest project in the North County city aims to enhance the stretch of El Camino Real that links Colony Square to the Carlton Hotel area, including adding new lighting, decorative sidewalks and a bike lane.
The fact is, El Camino Real in its current incarnation still looks like it was built for cruising, 1950s’ style, top down, but those days have come and gone.
Fortunately, the city recognizes this and is taking steps to move into the age of the pedestrian.
The focus of this phase is on the Atascadero Creek Bridge, which you’d never even realize was a bridge if all you’ve ever done is drive the road.
With its expanse of asphalt and nary a rise or narrowing to be seen, the stretch might better be described as a tunnel under a road than a bridge over water.
The result has been that a major civic asset, the creek, is all but disguised in its approach to the city center.
Beyond that and even worse, its path eastward toward the Salinas River is equally secretive, hidden behind private buildings and overwhelmed with vegetation.
We need to see that creek and its corridor.
You should be able to stand on that so-called bridge and see that a waterway is passing through.
One day, a footbridge is supposed to link Colony Square with the City Administration Building, but unless we get some of these trees and bushes out of the way, who will ever know it’s there?
Then, once we’re able to see it, maybe we’ll appreciate it more and find a way to make better use of it.
Atascadero has made significant strides in trying to re-establish its city core, and central to that effort should be improving visual access to this geographical jewel.
So as soon as the city makes that bridge actually look like a bridge, it should make the creek look like a creek.
I probably couldn’t have predicted this, but last week’s column on Matthew Hurlbutt might have been the first to receive not a single negative comment or letter.
This is the story of the Cal Poly student who under the influence of three substances was killed last year after wandering into the path of a pickup truck on Highway 101, and clearly I’ve done something wrong if I managed to find both a topic and a way to approach it that pleased everyone.
If you don’t believe me, look no further than the highly unscientific poll I added to the post online, which asked to whom readers would assign blame for the 2010 fatality.
Some 97 people took the poll, and all 97 laid responsibility at the feet of Hurlbutt. Not the government. Not the doctor.
Of course, I didn’t offer an option for shared blame. Who do I look like? Gallup?
Joe Tarica is the presentation editor at The Tribune and writes the Joetopia blog. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.