For over 65 years, I have been a resident of the city of Auburn. Born in the Opelika Infirmary and raised in Auburn, I am so proud to call the “Loveliest Village” my home.
Over these years, I have witnessed many changes. As a young boy, my mode of transportation was my bicycle. I would ride from Sherwood Drive to the Southside gas station, purchase one gallon of gas for 25 cents, and be on my way to cut grass. Also, I remember riding to the community center on Opelika Road to practice football on a field which is now the location of the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center. Those were the days when we as children were free to travel throughout our community and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
While I miss those times and wish my grandchildren could experience that life, those days are certainly in our rear-view mirrors.
Through the years, Auburn University and the downtown area have changed dramatically. Auburn University is now a pedestrian-friendly campus, making it impossible to drive through the streets as we did in the past. The eagle’s cage, a popular site for visitors and fans, has given way to a new student center.
In order for Auburn University to improve, these changes were necessary. Downtown has increased in the number of businesses but has decreased in the amount of parking space. As a small business owner, I promote growth downtown but realize it comes with a price. The boom in technology has had a major impact on my business as a bookstore. Making these adjustments has been difficult. A positive mindset, forward thinking, and striving to endure these changes are critical for success.
As a former member of the City Council, I have seen how the effects of progress can change a community. Our council was willing to consider all options and work together to move Auburn forward with the times.
Taking a new path was difficult and met with resistance on occasion, but I believe the changes were necessary for Auburn to reach her potential.
With continued growth in our population and increased economic development, Auburn faces many challenges ahead. Again, it is important for us to look at our future as one with unlimited possibilities. As an Auburn citizen, I am thankful we have these challenges. There are many communities in the state of Alabama that do not have economic growth and are declining in population. While these communities are barely existing, Auburn continues to thrive and evolve.
I am thankful I live in a place where others want to live…where others want their children to attend school…where others want to shop…where others want to go for entertainment…where others want to have a better quality of life.
While progress is a great thing for our city, it ensures a tough road ahead that will be paved with many opinions and difficult decisions. I have the utmost confidence and trust in the leadership of our community. These leaders want what is best for Auburn and will take the steps to make sure she continues to grow. We would never want our city to be viewed by others as one that is stagnant and resistant to change.
We are Auburn. We are home to Auburn University. We are an intelligent and educated community of individuals that can share differing viewpoints, collaborate and compromise on possibilities, and decide on solutions that will forever make us Auburn.
I do not have all the answers but know that in order to succeed, we must embrace the changes. Let us join with our city leaders as we endeavor to move Auburn forward during these progressive times.
In sincere support of the mayor and City Council,
CEO, Johnston and Malone Bookstore