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Plan, prepare for growth or it plans for you

By By Paul Keane
I've spent much of the past week dealing with events, issues and topics centered around the growth and development of Atmore.
There was the Leadership Atmore session I attended, a Strategic Planning Meeting and the City Council meeting where it was OKed that the Mayor could negotiate in good faith the possible purchase of 400 more acres for industrial development. This doesn't include the numerous conversations I've had about this very topic in the past week.
The thing that keeps popping up in my pointed little head during these conversations is my experiences in the town that I grew up in – Mesquite, Texas.
When my family moved there in 1968, it was a sleepy little town of somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500. Car dealers in town would put in their commercials and advertisements one simple saying: "Come on out to the country and get a good deal on a car."
When I left Texas in 1996 to come to Alabama, my mother still lived in the home that I grew up in. From that little town of under 10,000 came the following numbers:
Other suburbs of Dallas didn't plan as well. Our sister city, Garland, is a mess in my opinion. To traverse the roads is a nightmare, as traffic problems are in abundance.
Commercial and industrial developments are right beside residential areas. Schools are overcrowded and the school district has trouble keeping pace.
Yes, Mesquite has some of the similar problems, but they are much less than what Garland suffers through. That's because the city fathers – when they saw the growth coming – put together plans, industrial parks, cultural organizations and other things that helped preserve some of the aspects that made Mesquite an attractive place to come and live.
Other suburbs such as Irving, Arlington and Duncanville did likewise, the benefits are being seen now. Other areas such as Plano, Richardson and Balch Springs – all suburbs of Dallas now – didn't plan ahead and have suffered the consequences.
This is on to say that Atmore is going to become a suburb of Pensacola or Mobile any time soon. But the fact of the matter is that we have an opportunity to enhance our way of life by taking advantage of the growth coming to Alabama via the automotive industry.
Leaders in this town are simply trying to plan for that growth, and they need the support and help from everyone in this town.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at paul.keane@atmoreadvance.com.