Called by some "The Most Powerful Blog in Roanoke," and "The Most Dangerous Blog in Roanoke" by others. A harsh light shining within the City of Roanoke, as it struggles to comprehend what it's place in the 21st Century will be.
We've come a long way, and we still have more years of greatness ahead.
Let the Star City shine once again.
So did a 1 million dollar "incentive" for Cambria Suites (which I think was a smart move, for multiple reasons).
They also changed the date for Walgreens, rightly if they expect growth (and while another drug store does not seem like much - at least it's accessible by public transit - more jobs for those who cannot or do not drive).
Countryside Neighborhood Alliance got a WIN with the extension of the Countryside Golf Course management contract, or so it seems. Time will tell on that one.
But a big ol' Thanks! to the Roanoke Times for posting what I could not find while searching the documents for the City Council agenda. The Market Advisory report. (pdf)
The usual things top the list as goals - expanding the market itself and all the accompanying suspects as one would expect. Some of it seems trivial: Replacing offending Ginko trees (sorry, but they drop fruit - thats what Ginko trees do. Of course, this fruit is edible - so anyone with some foresight could potentially harvest this and use it accordingly), cleaning sidewalks daily (normally the responsibility of the business located upon said sidewalk), and loitering (the city made a choice years ago to allow the homeless to remain downtown, out of charity).
What gets me is the innovative ideas that were put forth. Some are great, and some are blatant attempts at further ruination.
GOOD: WiFi credit card terminals, ceiling fans/ radiant heat, extending tables up Market on Saturdays, and lockers for purchased items to save you multiple treks back to the car.
BAD: A certain restaurateurs play for increased sidewalk space - so he can take that over too. Sure - try walking the Market on a Sunday and see if you don't hit this roadblock (non-ADA compliant roadblock at that), preserve awnings (didn't we just replace them?), and repave the street (you know, under that asphalt is a lovely layer of cobblestone - of course, that might require thought though).
And here is where we get to the HINKY:
Expand current management to night time, 24/7. (DRI or the City of Roanoke? Considering the current trend.. I know who I'm looking at.) Provide a variety of attractive uses during events, or when Market is closed. (vague? a tad.) Expand evening use: events, move First Fridays, yadda yadda. (A climbing wall in the parking garage? And would these events not require that Market Square be closed more often?)
These things sound great, for the time being. Problem is, we have an egotistical City Council (and administration - D&b) who think they own the forest AND the trees. The type who know the value of everything, but the worth of nothing.
I am going to admit something for the first time ever. I think the building of a new Art Museum downtown is a good thing.
I still think it's a crowbar to the historical nature of Downtown Roanoke, but yes - it says we are desperate enough to throw money at any crowd that has money. And yet, we cannot keep our own crown jewel shining enough without a major to-do about it.
The market has made leaps and bounds over the years in terms of growth. Part of that is the fact that tourists seem to love it. Kind of like going to a Red Socks game in Boston, if you're in the area - thats what you do.
Roanoke is a very unusual place - like Kansas City without the river as a hub, like Albany without the State Capitol as a motivator, but yet Roanoke refuses to die.
That is because there is vast opportunity for those who refuse to see the negatives, the "can-nots" lead to the "will-nots", and they drag everyone down.
There are a few self-stimulating businesspeople around here who believe they are God's Gift to something (no idea what), and everyone should bow and listen when they speak. Apparently some do, so these folks get even more inflated - until they hit a point where they become so ridiculous - they lock the system up. We saw it with Victory Stadium, and with the Star City Diner (how many of you know Spanker sat on the Library board for the City?) - and we see it again with the Amphitheater crew.
SO what? The city gets a concert venue that's outdoors. As I have posted previously, it's a good idea (as a multi-use facility) to locate it across from Carilion's new Bio-park. 8-12 concerts a year though.. there should be that many uses of the space in a month. Concerts, Renaissance Fairs, flea markets, what have you.
It's the limited scope of the brains behind the project that frighten me. These are our "ambassadors" to others looking for places to relocate. The same ones who cannot figure out what to do with a large section of the city prime for redevelopment, because no one ever thought about doing it there before.
Thinking outside the box is a wonderful thing, especially if you realize what a box is - and not worry about the pretty color of it.
Our Mayor, Hizdishonor, just returned from a trip to Sundance where he learned about Global Warming (among other things, like the joys of being a Hollywood star who near-owns a town). Upon his tanned return, he announces a new initiative: the Clean and Green campaign, which he also mentioned at the State of the City address.
Well, aside from Harris lying to get into the Sundance Summit (apparently, he forgot to mention that Mayor around these parts means City Council member who gets to bang the gavel when he feels like it and not much more), this "Clean and Green" campaign suddenly emerges again.
Now remember, there is no money behind this effort now - but Mason says she hopes to change that. And get rid of icky cigarette butts.
Oh - Im back folks, and just getting started.
Oh - and to the Roanoke Times, lest you think you get a pass this time. Wonderful reporting on the Gay Pride day in Elmwood park. Great to know the entire day had something to do with Senator Larry Craig. You deserve a Pulitzer for that kind of reporting, and a 2x4 to the cranium if you think that was anywhere NEAR informative.