The decision by Danville officials to purchase property west of the David S. Palmer Arena might not pay off for the city for some time to come.
But the move sets in motion a long-held plan to better develop the riverfront area in the city, especially around the arena.
Many cities with rivers flowing through them take advantage of the natural beauty and encourage development.
For whatever reason decades ago, local leaders decided not to develop the riverfront, just as they ignored the potential of Interstate 74. Instead of opening the city to embrace these features, the turned away and steered development away.
The arena offers city officials an opportunity to develop the riverfront not just with recreational features, but to link the site with assets designed to attract meetings, conventions, concerts and other special events.
If nothing else, acquiring the last immediately west of the arena allows the city to construct parking to accommodate arena patrons and eliminates the need for them to dodge traffic at the busy intersection at Main and Walnut streets.
This will not be a project that jumps into place over night. The recent property purchase is just the first step in what will most likely be a long journey toward an improved arena complex.
But this is the right step to take now to at least get the project started, even if its speed will be slow. Moving ahead as the city can afford each step is the right path to follow.