Friday, July 17, 2015

The "Beautification" racket.

On a periodic basis, the City of Bend tries to get into the beautification racket.  They take a commercial zone, which is usually pretty ugly or rundown, and come up with these marvelous plans to make it look nice.

Galveston is the latest target.

So you might guess what my reaction to that is.

Stay away, City of Bend.  This is a street with stores on it.  If it needs to be beautified, then let the landowners do it. If it isn't pretty, there might be a reason for it.

Most of these plans come to nothing, fortunately.  They had an ambitious plan for 3rd Street for awhile, but I haven't heard much about it.

They had another ambition plan for Greenwood Avenue between 3rd and Bond Street.

This second plan had me slightly concerned since the Bookmark is located on that corner.  But even then I thought the plans too ambitious and grandiose and I couldn't imagine they could swing it.  Not to mention they really didn't have the money for it.

And of course Downtown has always been a target, some of which they've actually managed to do.  Replacing the sidewalks.  That was nice.  Putting in some new trees.  O.K.

But the idea of replacing the sidewalks again fell by the wayside, as far as I know, as well as this insane idea of tearing them up to put a "blue" stripe (representing water) running from the fountain at the base of Hospital Hill to Drake Park.

There is always the lingering danger of closing the streets and making it a Mall, which would be the death of downtown.  Every study I've ever seen has emphasized the importance of cross-traffic.  If it gets "too busy" that a bit like Yogi Berra's complaint about a restaurant.  "No one goes there anymore.  It's too crowded."

They did managed to build a structure near the Radamacher House that was so ill-designed that only the homeless and driftless actually use it.

Basically the rule of thumb should be -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Galveston and Greenwood and 3rd Street are all doing relatively well, occupancy wise.

If you tear up the streets, I guarantee you some of the businesses will NOT survive. Nothing pushes customers away more than construction.  If the construction is Absolutely Necessary, then it can't be helped. Traffic, sewer, drainage, etc.  Those are legit reasons to tear things up.

To Beautify?  Not so much.  I don't object to the Parks being beautified; that doesn't disrupt private business.

In my own store, I've come to realize that while you have to be presentable, and you want to be as beautiful as you can be, it is not as connected actual viability as you might think.  Given an esthetic choice between having lower sales by more attractive display, or less attractive display but better sales, I'll take the latter.

Because if I don't stay in business, nothing else matters.

Again, I emphasize -- these are private business that line these streets.  To put them out of business because you don't like their looks is a crazy thing to do.

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