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Kids (and adults) say the darndest things

In August I asked my cousin Kate, age 10, for input on articles for Kidsville News, a local children’s magazine. I’d been writing for Kidsville for several months when I realized I’d never actually asked any kids what they might be interested in reading.

Strong opinions abound in our family, and Kate did not disappoint. Based on Kate’s suggestions, I’m shooting for more “did you know” stories and info about recognizable places around town.

Coastal Heritage Society (CHS) is way ahead when it comes to asking for input. This Monday they’re holding the first of three forums to gather ideas for a children’s museum in Savannah for kids ages 2 to 10.

“The goal of the museum is to provide children with interactive ways to learn about the cultural heritage of this area of the state,” says Beth Parr, education specialist for CHS.

June 2010 is the planned opening for the 32,000 square foot museum in the Coach and Paint Shops on the Roundhouse property. Three million dollars in SPLOST funds will restore the building on the corner of Jones and Boundary Streets, with another $4 million in private funds raised “to do all the exhibits and refit the building and the courtyard,” says Parr.

“The public meetings will give people accurate information about what’s happening,” says Parr, “and to give us input into things they’ve seen, things they want to make sure we know about, and concerns they have.”

The forums are designed for adults only, but my cousin Kate will have a chance to submit ideas from the comfort of her school classroom. Next month a survey will go out to first through fourth graders “to get their input on what they think should be in the children’s museum.”

Some ideas so far? “We’re looking at something that will be like a big sailing ship, providing opportunities for children to climb and cook and sail the seas,” says Parr. “Shops like Factors Walk where children will be able to role-play. We’ll have an infant toddler area. Maybe something with underwater exploration.”

Children’s Museum Public Forums: Mon., Oct. 22, 5:15 p.m. St. Mary’s Community Center, 812 West 36th St. Tue., Oct. 30, 2 p.m. Georgia Center for Continuing Education behind the Visitors Center on MLK Jr. Blvd. Sat., Nov. 17, 10 a.m. Armstrong Atlantic State University, University Hall Room 157

Info: Beth Parr, 663-7466, or

Eastside Target: Can we get there from here?

Two and a half years after Home Depot built its Eastside store, this week’s opening of an eastside Target and the accompanying Victory Square redevelopment might be called the capstone on the economic boom at the Skidaway and Victory intersection. In the past two years a new multiplex movie theater, a new grocery store, a community theater and new or expanded restaurants have given a jolt of energy to the mix of longtime neighborhood businesses.

Like Home Depot, Target and the soon-to-open Staples office supply store are likely to draw customers from Tybee to downtown, expanding the draw from the immediate vicinity.

So it would be nice if there was some way to get in and out of this shoppers’ paradise other than by car.

Unlike the Savannah Mall Target, the new store is less than a mile as the crow flies from thousands of shoppers in vibrant neighborhoods like Victory Heights and Parkside, with Baldwin Park, Gordonston and Ardsley not much farther.

Yet only the determined or desperate will find the courage to walk along the sidewalk-less shoulders of Victory Drive or Skidaway. The only stretches of sidewalk are found along Victory, one block in each direction from the Truman Parkway, perhaps added as part of that construction project.

Most neighborhoods west of Bee Road have ample sidewalks, and those without still beckon walkers into their narrow streets. But the Truman Parkway and large parcels of mostly undeveloped or commercial land west of the Truman block a straight-shot walk to Daffin Park and points further west, and busy Skidaway and Victory offer no safe walk routes.

CAT bus service deposits riders at shelters on the main thoroughfares, mere inches from the busy traffic lanes. When the CAT bus arrives, it has no bus turnout to allow traffic to pass while passengers board. It’s easy for a delayed driver behind a bus to forget that one partially full CAT vehicle is taking several cars out of the traffic.

Last Thursday I walked in a circle for a mile around Forsyth Park, just to feel the fresh air. On Saturday night I walked a mile and a half downtown, from a coffee shop to a pub, since it was easier and more fun than moving the car. On Sunday afternoon, I walked about three fourths of a mile from my house to Grayson Stadium and back, passing neighbors in both directions coming and going from the Folk Festival.

And then, because there was no other way to do it, I got into my car and drove one and a half miles to Victory Square to buy a toothbrush.

The Eastside may be on Target when it comes to shopping, but for transportation planning, it appears we have missed the mark.

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