Future for City of Somerset looks bright indeed

When we think about the direction the City of Somerset is moving, an old 80s tune comes to mind.

Way back in 1986, Timbuk3 released the ever-optimistic, "The Future is so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."

When we see the projects being discussed in Somerset City Council chambers -- and the aggressive approach to getting things done by the new administration -- we're pretty darn optimistic too.

Heck, even the new City of Somerset logo dropped this week is colorful and stokes thoughts of a bright future.

Alan Keck is just in his fourth month as mayor, but at the last city council meeting, he seemed ready to roll up his sleeves and work toward some of the goals he talked about as a candidate.

A farmer's market, Virginia Theatre renovation, new or renovated facilities for the EMS and Sanitation departments, sidewalks on Monticello Street connecting the downtown area to Somerset Community College, annexation and housing assistance.

All wonderful ideas. All very attainable-- with a little patience and resilience.

Of course, all of these projects cost money -- and Keck has always promised to be thrifty with taxpayer money.

But instead of putting things on the back burner and leaving them there, Keck is moving forward in an attempt to find a way to get some of these projects done.

"We've punted on these things for too long," Keck told councilors.

And we couldn't agree more.

We feel that Downtown Somerset can be more than a business district limited to attorneys' offices, insurance agencies and governmental buildings.

We're already seeing some life with new restaurants and bars.

A new farmer's market would be an ideal addition, as would a renovated Virginia Theatre that could serve our thriving arts community.

Keck and his team are looking for grant money to help take some of the burden off the city coffers.

And the key to any future growth in the downtown area is annexation.

Somerset's population has been stagnant at around 12,000. If we can add 3,000 people, Somerset's bonding capacity would double. And as Keck pointed out, if we can get to 20,000 people, there would be a much better chance of landing big-time companies and retailers. And that would be beneficial to all of Pulaski County.

These projects won't be finalized overnight. It's going to take some time and some hard work. It's going to take some forward thinking and determination.

But we think the Keck administration and Somerset City Council has their sites set on a bright future for our community.

Get those shades ready.

THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Michael McCleery, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Mark Walker, Circulation Director; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; and Chris Harris, Staff Writer.