There was a time in my life when I liked my grandparents more than my parents, and the reason was fairly simple. I could do whatever I wanted at my grandparents’ house.

I could eat just about anything I wanted to eat when I was at Mawmaw Beck’s house. I could watch any show I could imagine at Papa and Nanny Duskin’s house – except for Spongebob Squarepants. She hated his shrill voice and couldn’t stand hearing him cry “I’m ready!”

I loved my grandparents so much, and still do of course. Eventually, I got to a point where I couldn’t see my future without them. Now that I’m older, and they are too, I realize how naive that line of thinking was. One day they’ll pass away, leave this earth and get to heaven. Planning my future around them isn’t smart.

At Boaz’s recent ‘vision’ meeting, which was held to get the community’s input for a long-term, comprehensive plan, one idea to help ignite the downtown revitalization was to focus on seniors. Not seniors from the high school, but senior citizens.

I think senior citizens bring a lot to the table and are a big part of the community. Their well being is as important as anyone else’s, but planning a future around them isn’t the best idea. Unless there’s a beach around here that no one told me about, Boaz isn’t exactly the “destination city” retirees are flocking by the dozen toward.

The best idea I heard at the meeting was about better incorporating Snead State Community College and its hundreds of youthful students into the downtown plans. Since it’s walking-distance away, why not give the college students a reason to come downtown? Move the college bookstore downtown, throw in a coffee shop and get a couple restaurants to offer a “dining dollars” system similar to other college towns. If that happened, downtown’s potential would be sky-high.

The City of Boaz needs a new identity since the outlet days are over. Why not become a college town? I’m not saying become Auburn or Tuscaloosa, but Boaz should embrace the college it has been home to for more than 100 years.

Boaz City Schools administrators, Boaz city officials and many others always talk about how “our children and students are the future.” Why not center the city’s future on those children? That idea I mentioned earlier about the college – it was from a 22-year-old.

I’m not entirely sure why it was, but there weren’t many people at the meeting. Maybe it was too short of a notice for people, or maybe something else was going on. What I do know is Boaz needs more ideas than those from a room full of city officials and about 10 other citizens.

And, if the City of Boaz hopes for a better, brighter future, it needs to focus on attracting the younger generation. Because frankly, they are the future.

Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at taylor.beck@sandmountainreporter.com.

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