York City has some issues.
But we're not sure the condition of Continental Square ranks very high on that list.
It's not really that bad.
Certainly, no one driving or walking through the heart of York on George or Market streets would call it an eyesore.
Could it be better?
Well, of course -- just like most things.
And architect Frank Dittenhafer, hired by the York County Community Foundation's Beautiful York Committee to give the square a facelift, has come up with some very cool ideas to spruce it up.
Among his most ambitious recommendations: the addition of interactive water jets he called a "magnet for kids and families," the incorporation of art films that would project onto the sides of buildings and the erection of a glass pavilion marking the entrance to York's 83-year-old underground restrooms.
Dittenhafer also recommends removing most of the trees, signs and lights that currently populate the square, making way for a brick foundation that would unite the square's four quadrants and create "a more seamless sense of the area."
New crosswalks, wayfinding signs and, possibly, updated traffic patterns would emphasize pedestrian-friendliness.
Not bad at all.
There are two big questions, though: How much will the bill be and who will pay it?
Dittenhafer said the next phase would be to design a more specific plan that would produce an estimated project cost. Then, members of the community foundation said, fundraising would begin.
It sounds like the idea is to use private money, but until we know the exact costs, it's impossible to determine if the foundation can reasonably raise that amount -- or if it will need to ask city taxpayers to chip in.
If that's the case, officials will have to weigh the Continental Square project against the city's many other needs -- it wasn't that long ago the council was considering laying off police and firefighters to balance the budget.
And, as one reader wrote in a letter to the editor, city officials should be more concerned about parking issues and economic development than essentially ripping up the square and starting over.
Here's a plan probably everyone could get behind: Buy up as many strategically placed empty lots as possible in the city and turn them into free public parking spaces. Talk about bang for your buck.
Even if the foundation can pull this off without any public money, it doesn't mean it will be a smooth process.
Trust us. We had front-row seats here at the Dispatch for the installation of four new crosswalks on the 200 block of North George Street, paid for with a private donation.
The project dragged on for much of the summer, as concrete was poured, jackhammered back up and poured again. It was delayed further in a quest for "unusual" 1970s-era matching bricks.
Sure, the crosswalks look great now and they're definitely handy.
But it was hardly a pretty process.
We simply urge caution with what sounds like a much more complicated plan for Continental Square.