On a recent trip, I drove through the downtown of Westfield, Ill., or rather, what is left of it. As Wikipedia reports: “Reflecting the city’s economic decline, much of the downtown area consists of boarded up and abandoned buildings.”
Driving into vibrant Westfield, Ind., provides an amazing contrast. The towns shared some similarities: Historically in agricultural areas, with some businesses and a small college. One main difference is that Westfield, Ind., is in closer proximity to a large metro area.
I believe that another key to our downtown’s vitality can be attributed to the efforts of a task group that was formed a little more than a decade ago (around the time that Westfield was incorporated as a city), and charged with helping downtown thrive and avoid decline. One example of potential decline could be seen in the flood-prone, largely unusable and unattractive area just south of Ind. 32 on Union Street, in the center of downtown.
I am thankful for the hard work of the task group, along with the foresight and support of the mayor, city council and others in the community. While there has been investment needed for this growth, there has also been preservation, encouragement of business and development of public trails and spaces, including the new park and plaza that will take the place of the flood-prone eyesore.
I feel very fortunate that it appears that our downtown will avoid the fate of another town named Westfield, only approximately 140 miles southwest of us.
Barbara Grider, Westfield