Astoria is experiencing a renaissance. The Elliott Hotel, the Liberty Theater, Mill Pond Village, new development at the Port of Astoria, The Cannery Pier Hotel, the proposed Convention Center are all symbols of a city on the rise. However, development is coming at us at breakneck speed, and I think we need a community-wide discussion of our vision for the future of Astoria.
I believe that the Safeway-American Legion block is a key to our future, and I don't want us to squander a wonderful opportunity to develop that property. We need something that draws our community together and is a source of pride. During our travels around the country, we have noted that most prosperous and upcoming cities have, at their core, a library/community center.
Our current library is inadequate for our present, much less future, needs. It is not designed for 21st-century needs. The upper level is not handicapped accessible, space for computers is limited, there is no room for children's and youth programs, the bathrooms are in poor condition, and there is very limited space for community meetings. A library should provide for lifelong learning. Right now, it cannot adequately provide for our children or our elderly, two very important segments of our community. A community center would provide a much needed facility for large forums and discussions as well as smaller meeting rooms for community groups.
Aside from deciding the best use for the Safeway-American Legion Block, Astoria also has many other challenges ahead. Among the most pressing is the need for parking. Since the Safeway-American Legion block is currently used for parking, other parking areas will need to be developed to compensate for that loss. In addition, the college may relocate to Warren Field, the hospital is talking about expanding, and we anticipate growth in both tourism and population. All of these will greatly increase our need for parking, and I believe we need a citywide plan for parking to address these issues.