For this first reaction paper I decided to do a community plan analysis of Purcellville, Virginia. The plan I focused on for this town was the Purcellville Downtown Master Plan. The plan starts off on what Purcellville is like and where about the town is situated, and then goes into the process and approach of what it is aiming to do. The plan then discusses what to preserve as the town grows and what buildings could use some more modern renovations in the downtown area. Said plan also shows who helped in the making of what is to be preserved and what buildings needed more upkeep. There are a few weaknesses within this plan, first, mostly prominent business owners and town coordinators choose what the decisions are, even then there are options given and not all of the decisions are brought to the table and this is all seen as the first dimension of power. Second, from the ending of the plan it also seems that it is attempting to benefit the growth of businesses which may be a potential problem.
One of the weaknesses is that this plan is formed mostly business owners and town coordinators. This means that not the entire community’s viewpoint on what the downtown area should look like and what should be preserved is on the table. The plan suggests that the top things that need to be preserved are the small town feel, the W&OD Trail, the train station, the orchards and farms and the baseball/football field (Downtown Master Plan, 2005). The rest is up for change which may be an issue for residents in the area who may have deep ties with particular buildings or streets downtown. The plan also gives options as to how things may end up looking/moving. This could potentially end small businesses that aren’t deemed necessary or protected. The options are given however the decision is not the public’s it is the towns. This ties into our course readings by being the first dimension of power (Sadan, 1997, 40). How, is that the decisions are not open to the public however the town decides that they have everyone’s interest in mind by using small businesses ideas. This can also be seen as pluralism which we talked about in class from the Ferman reading. Everyone has potential power to make decisions, just not everyone utilizes it to their full potential or will be heard in a greater manner. The second weakness is that the majority of this plan seems to be based on the growth of the town via businesses. This can possibly lead to the growth of a machine causing a small town to expand just for profit. The reason that I say there is potential for a machine to grow is because, from what I gathered in class discussion, a growth machine is the things within a city that increases economy and which is the most important thing of all. Although it seems unlikely that Purcellville will become large like New York City, there is still a potential of a machine popping up.
The strength of this plan is the plan itself. The plan to keep downtown Purcellville charming and busy as it has always been even though the town itself is growing constantly into a larger city and less of a farm town. Also, the broadness of the subjects to be preserved helps the community have multiple options. Within keeping the old town charm it will be much harder for machines to form if everyone wants the past to stay as well as the central community power. Since I started living in the town around 2008 I personally have not really seen much of a drastic change downtown. They may have renovated a building here or there and moved the farmers market and town hall but nothing as big as they were planning. This plan wants to keep the historic charm of Purcellville however, the barns they have knocked down are now homes to a large shopping center, equipped with a Harris Teeter, Starbucks and soon-to-be Chik-Fil-A. As well as cutting through an orchard for a new road to be paved to make commuting through town quicker. This plan may have done some good at protecting the downtown area and keeping the small town feel however, it seems like the more populated the town is getting, the more businesses are coming in and the “feel” seems to be threatened. It would be interesting to see a new and more updated plan of what is to be preserved and what isn’t.
Purcellville Downtown Master Plan, 2005: http://www.purcellvilleva.com/index.aspx?nid=608