Thursday, February 20, 2014

Disgust.

Unexpected controversy arose tonight when Mrs. Baird chose to disclose a shocker: Having already earmarked $270K for farmers market improvements, bids came in high, and she'd be coming back to ask the council for another $75K.

A discussion broke out, perhaps the first one to occur since the council's budget was revealed to have included a line item for this project -- a fact that at least two council persons I spoke with cannot remember ever seeing.

Mr. Duggins proceeded to mount a defense, which I'm sure Daniel Suddeath will explain in tomorrow's paper (the link will be included here), but the part of particular interest to me was Mr. Gonder's question of the city's economic development director, paraphrased: One criticism of the farmers market I've heard comes from those who run businesses downtown the year round, wondering why weekend seasonal temporary vendors merit such attention when downtown businesses are on duty every day. 

Duggins's reply, also paraphrased: It's just like the complaints about Harvest Homecoming blocking storefronts; we'll talk about it someday; and the farmers market is important, so it's different. 

Excuse my being obtuse, but permit me to ask (non-paraphrased).

How so?

And: Those complaints about Harvest Homecoming ... are they the ones not being taken seriously, yet again, for another year?

Look, it's beginning to get tragi-comic around here. The more the topic is raised, the faster they're ducking and covering.

Swimming pools have a plan. Parks have a plan. Dog runs have a plan. Industrial entities (the heroic job creators) have a plan. The farmers market has a plan. Harvest Homecoming has a plan -- a bad one, which downtown business owners widely loathe, but a plan nonetheless.

What do all these plans have in common? Money is being thrown at them.

And then there are our local, independently owned businesses downtown. They've written the book on revitalization and played a disproportionately large role in lifting the city out of its self-imposed stone age, putting us on the map for the future generations ... and nothing. Not a peep. Not even a half-hearted effort to mediate the annual Harvest Homecoming cluster; just a change of subject.

Yes, and there's the other key facet of city life subsisting without a plan. It's the street grid, with the exception of Main Street ... and that's the wrong plan.

Really? This is very discouraging.

3 comments:

Jeff Gillenwater said...

At Home He's A Tourist

The Bookseller said...

Mr. Gonder makes a good point, but he left out 1 thing. Those businesses at the farmers' market are a) doing just fine without a new boondoggle and b) none of them are NA residents or taxpayers.

Katrina Jones said...

I share in your disgust and have lost faith in the city leaders currently in office of grasping the realities of a growing and propspering downtown New Albany. I do believe they have plans but they are misguided and misinformed usually and appear to mainly benefit the good ole boys network.
The Farmers Market does benefit my business in the summer months and I welcome the growth but not at the ridiculous dollar amounts they plan or think they need to accomplish this.
As we agree there are more important issues that need to be tackled and planned for the future success and growth in a revitalizing downtown.
I for one will continue to do what I an independent soul and business has always done to grow and prosper in spite of all their shenanigans.
Having said that I also have little if any faith as to the possibilities for and of downtowns continued success in the long term.
I endure because I love what I do. Because of my age I will probably retire and close shop in the next 5yrs or so anyway.
How very sad and disappointing this is for me to ponder because my most desired wish is for downtown to be a thriving central importance for our community.
This sleepy little river town deserves more and should be more than they can envision...