SAN ANGELO, Texas — There is a subtle but growing thumping sound in the Concho Valley. It is the sound of an oil and gas boom coming closer every day.
It has certainly become a topic of conversation that has raised many interesting questions. There are reasonable expectations that it will be good for our economy. There are also some fears that it could bring unwelcome problems, and as always the speculation about how long it will last.
I certainly cannot answer those questions, but I know the wisest communities give thoughtful consideration to the short- and long-term implications of major events that could be disruptive and transformative. I am a strong optimist and feel that our community has been wise in the past and will do all it can to optimize the best long-term outcomes. I do have a few thoughts about how we can enhance our community for the future.
One thing that has been proven true throughout our nation is that when communities endeavor to protect their architectural and historical heritage, the integrity of their neighborhoods and the vibrancy of their central business area, and enhance their cultural opportunities, they thrive. San Angelo has done much better in this regard than most communities that I can think of, including others that have been heavily impacted by the dynamic energy business.
The half-cent sales tax, for example, along with the R/UDAT efforts of a number of years ago and the committed people of Downtown San Angelo, Inc. and our own city government, have given attention to long-term planning and resulted in a significantly improved quality of life. The new library dazzles, the restored historic Santa Fe Orient Depot and the Art Museum along with the Symphony, Ballet, Civic Theatre and Cultural Affairs Council have added enormously to the richness and cultural and educational opportunities for everyone. Our university, military installation, Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of corporate and individual enterprises have been forward-thinking and dynamic.
The nature of my job requires that I promote and advance the cause of the Art Museum. However, it has always been the Museum’s commitment to see the community itself as the “greatest work of art.” In that vein of thinking, I wish to call attention to two significant aspects of our development that I urge everyone to support with vigor and in every way they can.
We are fortunate to have one of the most extraordinary assets in America in the form of the Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. It is almost a miracle that such a site survives in the heart of a modern city. It remains vital to our identity and our economic well-being and requires ongoing and significant investment.
The other project of note is the vision for the new San Angelo Performing Arts Center. It will revitalize the extraordinarily beautiful City Hall Auditorium and create a magical new space adjacent to our recently restored City Hall in a building formerly occupied by Coca-Cola Co. A very dedicated group of citizens has come together for this wonderful and highly imaginative project.
It is an interesting observation that in our downtown, unlike most cities, there is no real civic square where large numbers of people come together for culture, entertainment and community life. This project will create such a space. The scale is right for our community, it brings together and preserves existing elements of great value and will help energize the continued revival of our civic core.
I resist naming names, but one doesn’t have to look far to understand why other communities that have been impacted by the energy boom look to San Angelo with envy. We have preserved our heritage and community scale, and consistently invested in the quality of life for our residents while at the same time becoming ever more attractive to visitors from far and wide.
If the energy industry continues to grow, that will be wonderful for our community as long as we invest the wealth thoughtfully. And even if it should subside, we will continue to have a community that is unique, beautiful and livable and through its historic and cultural heritage will help provide a foundation for the long-term strength of our economy.
Howard Taylor is director of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts. Contact him at email@example.com or 325-653-3333.
Reprinted from Standard-Times - Read Article Here