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What we think: An idea whose time has come

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By The Staff

 If you read the list of ideas the community put forth recently in its vision for the future of Shelby County, one should have stuck out like Rudolph's nose:

Let's build a civic center.

Shelbyville - and Shelby County - is ready to have its own entertainment/meeting/civic venue as functional focal point for all residents and visitors.

Yes, there are many steps to be taken and many ideas to be reviewed before such a facility could be built, but let's not delay.

A civic center would bring a new level to quality of life in Shelby County and a new opportunity to attract visitors and revenue as well.

Can't you imagine a building that competes to some extent with Frankfort's Civic Center and other smaller venues as a site for theater, concerts, rallies, community revivals and - best of all - high school graduation?

Yes, you could see your child graduate from a local high school right here in its home county!

The ideas for how to use such a building are limitless.

How about having public art in its foyer? How about a unique architecture to that blends green concepts with the historic persona of Shelbyville? How about a civic hall of fame on its walls to honor those who have created and enhanced our history?

Such a facility would be of a manageable size - seating, say, 1,500-to-3,000 - and would supplement meeting facilities at the Family Activity and Stratton centers and venues at Shelby County High School.

And let's not build our civic center at the fairgrounds or on the new bypass. Let's put it right downtown as a magnet for restaurants, shopping and destination activities.

Place it somewhere between Main and Washington east of Fifth Street and let the downtown grow to it and embrace our new judicial center. One parking lot could serve both venues.

With that in mind, now is the time for County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger and Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty to appoint a nonpartisan task force charged with developing, funding and presenting to the local governments a plan to build such a building in the next four or five years.

It can be done. We can use tourism bed tax as a potential foundation for bonding this project and set a public goal for private contributions to enhance that.

So while we're at it, how about a local company or two coming forward to seed contributions to this project, and how about a local individual who believes in this to stand up as the drum major of this parade?

These projects are being developed and executed at smaller cities all across the country. They have revitalized some and simply enhanced others.

A civic center is a necessity for a progressive, growing, vibrant community.

It's time Shelby County built one.