Feature Article - March 2009
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Drawn to the Water

How Aquatic Settings Can Become a Community Gathering Place

By Jessica Royer Ocken


ots of communities have water access—in fact, historically that's one of the reasons settlers chose a particular location to, um, settle. But it's one thing to have a body of water near your town and quite another to really make it a destination, a place your community goes to gather, relax or be entertained. Done right, a waterfront destination can enrich the local culture, strengthen community ties and even generate revenue. Interested?

Whether you're situated along a river, like Naperville, Ill., or Philadelphia; a lake, like Grand Haven, Mich., (OK, and they have a river, too); or an ocean, like Santa Barbara, Calif., or Port Aransas, Texas, you can learn from these communities, which have successfully created a center of activity—and community pride—along the water in their midst.

Although every waterfront is unique, there's a surprising consistency in what has paved the way to success for each of these waterside towns. And fortunately, they were willing to share their insights into the essential components of a thriving waterfront…