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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Solution is found right under our feet

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I'm an advocate of the procrastinator's creed - if you wait long enough, a solution will find you. OK, so I made that up. But in some cases, it truly applies.

I've followed the discussions among downtown merchants and businesses recently concerning the possibility of changing Center Street to a one-way route. I have serious reservations about the plan but I'll accept that wiser heads will prevail.

Then just this morning, I'm reading some abstract news report out of Portland, Ore., and the solution hit me. So here's the background.

Researchers in Oregon have discovered that walking on smooth, rounded cobblestones for just a half-hour a day significantly lowers blood pressure. They made the discovery by taking a clue from the Chinese. It seems that in several Chinese cities, cobblestone streets are common. The residents walked and stood and exercised on these cobblestone thoroughfares on a daily basis. And wouldn't you know, those residents had vastly improved balance and lower blood pressure because of their daily ritual on the cobblestones.

OK, so far, so good.

Now if you'll recall, beneath the asphalt on much of our downtown streets lies the remains of turn-of-the-century bricks that mimic cobblestones. These now-smooth bricks were a picturesque and quaint part of our downtown until about three decades ago when - for a variety of reasons - they were covered with asphalt. In many areas, time has removed the asphalt and the bricks have resurfaced.

So you now see the obvious. Cobblestones promote good health. The downtown is home to thousands of cobblestones. Eureka!

By removing the asphalt and repairing the bricks where needed, the downtown merchants can have the best of all worlds. People could potentially return downtown and stroll the streets, thus promoting good health and renewed pedestrian traffic downtown.

This idea may not solve whatever problem the merchants perceive with the path of Center Street, but it would put some polish on the downtown area and return it to the way it once was. Throw in some classy period light fixtures, maybe a bench or two and you have a quaint downtown shopping experience that would likely draw visitors to the businesses and the Depot.

And by strolling the health-promoting cobblestones, some of the merchants could lower their blood pressure that has risen sharply with the one-way discussion.

See, if you wait long enough, a solution just jumps out at you.

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