By Dennis Wade
Recently returned to my Salem roots, from RaleighWood, N.C. I see a lot of growing pains here, paralleling what I saw happen, over my 30+ years in the growing Raleigh area. And ‘group think’ by city planners, resulting in wasted effort and dollar$. I joke that Roanoke, or any city’s planners, should not drink wine before, or during, committee sessions. Grins come often when you hit on some of the local silliness with your tongue-in-cheek columns . . . Like the double St. Patrick’s Day events. Sigh.
I’ve got a FARCICAL idea on the Market Square conversion proposal. The Taubman Museum is underutilized and cash-poor. How about converting the spacious street-level of the Taubman to parking? Or a Drive-Thru and Park Museum! The Taubman’s exterior walls have a retro-look, and could be painted to resemble tail fins of mid-’50s cars, advertising PARKING. Voila! The lost Market Square parking spaces are replaced, and the financially strapped Taubman generates more revenue. in-Win solution!
SERIOUSLY, What if the city did a low-budget ‘test use’ of the Market Square conversion? Close off the parking spaces, and let Virginia Tech students, in related fields, do a short-term, immediate “green space.” For example, drop in small trees in those giant concrete planters. A ‘test marketing’, you might say.
That would give citizens, vendors, and the downtown community an opportunity to get the feel of a permanent change. The full $600,000++ rebuild of the below-street utilities, and full-blown landscaping, could be postponed until fall. Then the outside vendors would not be disrupted again. Like today’s editorial column said, they’re still reeling from the Market Building and Center in the Square remodeling disruptions. Public and vendor input, or the Roanoke planners, might decide that the permanent green space is a bad idea, after trying it on for size. Or a plan for convertible assets, adjusted to seasons, might derive.
Seems like the continued remodeling is gonna cure the patient to death!
Another ‘Downtown Improvement’ idea: A grad student in Raleigh posted, without any city approval, ‘Walk Raleigh’ signs, last year. The signs point to attractions, listing the walking time to destination. Objective: Facilitate and Encourage pedestrian traffic, rather than senseless short moves in vehicles. Last I heard, the City of Raleigh adopted the initiative. I kept the Raleigh News and Observer article, with contact info.
FYI, there are ‘Walk Raleigh’ websites. The initial ‘urban guerilla’ work kind of tickled me. Still have contacts and interests, in Raleigh, and would appreciate any contacts with interested Roanoke folks. I’d be happy to work with locals, to do footwork & investigate implementing (w/ Roanoke City approval..LOL).
Thanks again, for your funny and insightful columns.