Editorial: Can Stafford find its heart in ‘downtown’? | Editorial

In 1964, Petula Clark captured the attractive power of city life in her song “Downtown.”

“When you’re lonely and life makes you lonely, you can always go downtown,” she sang.

Towns have had their ups and downs in the nearly 60 years since that song was released, but the excitement they generate has never really waned.

Stafford County, a place too many people in our area know only as a strip of Interstate 95 they drive across every day to and from Washington, DC, has never really had a hub – a “city” if you will – that excites people.

This is unfortunate, as Stafford is an extremely diverse region that could really benefit from a robust urban center.

To understand how diverse the county is, one needs to take a broader view. And the best place to do it is in the center of the Stafford County Office of Economic Development and Tourism Boardroom.

Along the walls of the long table in this room are aerial views of the county’s seven major regions: 610 Stafford North, Quantico, Stafford Courthouse, Airport Area, the Southern Gateway, Falmouth, and Ferry Farm.

People also read…

Each of these regions has its own character. And it is this diversity that is one of the county’s greatest strengths. From military centers and corporate centers to data centers and warehousing, Stafford continues to grow as a business hub on the I–95 North-South corridor.

An extended runway at the airport, which will allow business jets from the west coast to carry heavier loads, will only strengthen the region’s position as a business leader.

Now the county is taking bold steps to create this downtown. It is called Downtown Stafford and the Stafford Board of Supervisors finally approved it last July.

The first piece of this downtown, Fountain Park, is being developed. It will include a small neighborhood and become part of what will eventually become Stafford town centre.

“This area,” says John Holden, director of the county’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, “will be socially and culturally where North Stafford and South Stafford meet.”

The focus is on creating a denser space, with a more urban environment made up of multi-purpose facilities.

This will not be an overnight solution. “It’s a generational project,” Holden says. “It will take decades to develop [Downtown Stafford] as a region.

But as it continues to grow, and as more restaurants, niche shops and the appeal of an enticing nightlife continue to thrive, there’s a good chance Stafford will finally find what he’s been looking for all his life. these years.

A place where people in the neighborhood can go “forget all their worries, forget all their worries”.

Let’s go, Downtown Stafford.

David H. Henry