Monday, September 8, 2008

It is worth it?


I don't like to belittle the efforts of people who truly are trying to make a difference in our community, but I thought it was kind of ridiculous the other day when local and state officials held a "rededication of the city of Washington" ceremony (shown above) at Patriots Pavilion across from the O-R building. The event marked the near-completion of the $15 million downtown revitalization project. Yes, there are new sidewalks and planters, and the utility lines have been buried underground, but I come downtown pretty much every day, and what else is really different? There's very little commerce, except for perhaps the lunch business at a few restaurants and people coming to the bars in the evenings. For every business that has opened over the past few years, it seems that another one has closed. Officials say the next phase is marketing the downtown to businesses. I wish them the best of luck, for the good of the city, but it's an uphill climb. Remember a few years back when Jack Piatt, I believe, had a major redevelopment of the downtown in mind? It met with opposition from existing businesses in the area and was never heard from again. And by the way, after years of work and the spending of $15 million, the fancy new streelights on South Main still don't work. Was this money well spent?

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, but the OR supported the idea, day in and day out. thanks Brant for speaking from a different prospective.
Obviously it was not just local businessmen, but citizens and at least one other newspaper that pointed out the mess that the downtown project was.

September 8, 2008 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fairness, downtown Washpa does look better now than it did in '99, when I came here. In those days, it was pretty darn grim. And having a semi-attractive downtown doesn't hurt when you're trying to attract business.

Nevertheless, it's got a ways to go. Places like Washington have been hurt by big-box retailers and the flight of manufacturing jobs from this area. And what about consolidating local governments? Washington would be able to expand its tax base if East Washington and North Franklin were brought into the fold.

--Brad Hundt

September 8, 2008 at 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The downtown's main problem was a human one, the crime, the dirt and grime. That has not changed. The citizens understood that, but Ivory Tower (O-R) writers (with the exception of Brant) don't seem to get it.
Also, as a small businessman, I understand that basically shutting down business for almost two years is bad for business.
BTW Brad if this is semi-attractive (the downtown) you are kidding yourself.
In addition, the debt the city has absorbed by these ventures has harmed actual services to citizens.
No one wants to consolidate to take over someone else's mess. Would you really want to absorb higher taxes to pay for the mistakes of the downtown region? Again, easy to say from an Ivory tower.

September 8, 2008 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

But hey, we have that outstanding Farmer's Market every Thursday. What a great joy that is.
Nothing like eating up half the parking spots in town every Thursday during the summer.

September 9, 2008 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Might as well use them for something...

I'd like to say that if there were a "vibrant" downtown, that I would go... but I wouldn't... I'd stay home and cook my own food and mix my own drinks...

-ellipses

September 9, 2008 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem has never been downtown Washington it has been the areas that surround it. Who in the hell wants to go shopping in downtown when just a few blocks from there you have crackheads, hookers and dope dealers harassing the decent citizens of this hell hole. I wouldn't want to shop downtown for fear I may be robbed by the drug addicts that are constantly hanging out on the street corners and even the courthouse square. Clean up the problem first before you start wasting 15 mill to beautify the downtown region. You could of used that 15 mill to buy survillance cameras to be placed in the high crime areas, you could of used that to create a place for some of these bad ass kids to go during the summer and after school besides hanging out on street corners with the scum learning their soon to be new jobs.

September 9, 2008 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Good points. I'm a pretty big boy, and even I am wary about walking in downtown Washington after dark. If I were a woman, I wouldn't even consider it. That pretty much says it all about the city. If people are afraid to be on the streets after dark, how to they expect to revitalize it. Just since I've been at the paper, we've had two shootings right across the street from our building, and it's a fairly regularly occurrence to see someone who has just come from one of the Main Street bars urinating in a parking lot with not a care in the world. The police can't be everywhere. Let's face it. There are a lot of scummy people who frequent downtown Washington. Go a couple of blocks away from downtown, and it gets even worse. Those surveillance cameras sound like a pretty good idea. It might seem a little Big Brother-ish, but we have to do something. It's a matter of making life hell for the scumbags until they relocate. Of course, that takes time. There was an effort to really crack down on activities on the Hill, but it seems like the scum just set up shop in the West End. It's like chasing cockroaches. You turn the lights on, and they scurry. But where?

September 9, 2008 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant they are scurrying to the West End, Canton Twp. and trying to make their way to Canonsburg, where the citizens of that borough are not going to take that crap. Unfortunately, there is no use in making it hell for their tired asses because they will only relocate for a short period of time. Why leave a buffet of drug addicts for a dollar menu. Another issue is a few bars that are located in downtown. Some of them are magnets for the worst of the worst. The only problem is, they get shut down and only re-open under a new name with a different owner who was friends with the last owner so they will only attract the same riffraffs. Drunks and beer muscle tough guys who want to start fights with everyone. Not to mention the "ladies" who don't know how to behave themselves especially when they think another skank is trying to push up on their man. There are many issues that should have been resolved and that needed to be resolved before people are going to want to frequent the downtown area again, if ever.

September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Park Burroughs said...

Whoa, Dale! Finally, we have a business downtown that attracts shoppers (the Farmers' Market) and provides the downtown with its only semblance of safe social activity, and you're complaining because those shoppers are taking up parking spaces? I guess if we we drive all the business out of town it would be so much better for you, and you wouldn't have to search for a parking space at all.

September 10, 2008 at 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parking is a key aspect to any business. Having a business that actually cuts down on the number of parking spaces is just plain ludicrous.

September 10, 2008 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Right... IF<--- that's a big IF... people are parking in those spaces to go to those businesses. If those parking spaces are sitting empty every day, who cares if you use them? Now, if Wash pa starts turning around and becomes a bustling center of commerce and culture... there is an argument for moving the farmer's market somewhere else. But so long as they aren't really inconveniencing anyone, who cares?

-ellipses

September 10, 2008 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Park would have to come out of the Ivory Tower to understand that...

September 10, 2008 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

It's like what mitch hedberg says... you can swear on xm radio... you can swear in the woods, too, cause no one can hear you!

-ellipses

September 10, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I have to side with Dale on this one. While I have no gripe with the concept of the farmers' market, I do have a problem with the location. If someone did want to patronize businesses in the area of the South Main parking lot, and there are several, they would play hell finding a parking spot on Thursday afternoon. People who are interested in going to the farmers' market would certainly patronize it at some other location in the area of the downtown. Why not have it in that white elephant of a parking garage that was built down by Shop 'n Save or at the old city lot/garage up on Chestnut Street? And from what I see, I don't think people who are visiting the farmers' market are patronizing other businesses in the area. They pick up their tomatoes and leave. There used to be (maybe still is) a farmers' market at the Franklin Mall. That was a great place for it because there was plenty of room to set up, and still plenty of room for people to park.

September 10, 2008 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

The garage idea is good... it would be cooler and sheltered from rain... the acoustics my be ef'd up for Harry and the Funky bunch, though.

Have you guys had complaints from the paint store or the ivy green about the farmer's market?

-ellipses... favors moving the festivals off main street... and the car shows... and, well... main street.

September 10, 2008 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Park Burroughs said...

From way up here in the Ivory Tower, I can see that tours of the Bradford House have increased dramatically on Thursday afternoons, and that folks are wandering from the Farmers' Market up to the George Washington to hear jazz musicians jamming, and then sticking around to eat at local restaurants, all the time taking up precious parking spots and causing working people to walk maybe a whole block to their office. How dreadful.
Granted, there may be a better spot in town for the Farmers' Market, an idea the market's organizers have been actively pursuing for some time. But the suggestion, Brant, to take the most positive commercial event in this town and move it out to the mall ignores both local history and common sense.

September 11, 2008 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

We just have a difference of opinion on this one. Now, where's that guy who claimed I always agree with you just to kiss your a$$? ;)

September 11, 2008 at 10:07 AM  

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