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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Be Here Now

Thomas Paine, patriot and pamphleteer, offered in The Crisis, penned during Christmas week of 1776, "these are the times that try men's souls." He was eye-witness to the birth of a nation, often in the arena, marching and fighting with the soldiers of Washington's Continental Army and never hesitant to chide those whom he called "the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot."

He was very sure of his course and confident of his ability to achieve his goals. I mention him at all since it seems to me that we here in The Rose City are continuing to have second thoughts on our second thoughts about reinventing ourselves and improving both our overall community and our tax base via our Grand List. So, with apologies to Paine, these have become the times to try our collective patience.

(Too) Many of us, even (perhaps especially) those who supported a bond initiative for downtown economic development in November 2010, were pleasantly surprised it was passed by our residents and electors. I'm still having difficulty, sixteen months on, understanding why so many who claimed to back the effort had at some level written it off. Instead of taking part in the defining and refining of the program in terms of stimulus and participant qualifications, they sat benumbed by an unexpected turn of events they should have counted on in the first place.

Meanwhile, let's be honest about Chelsea. Sir Isaac Newton, not a redevelopment specialist noted in his First Law of Motion that a "body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion...will remain in motion." That is to say, it's easier to jump on a bandwagon that's moving than push one that's standing still and then try to hop on.

A lot has been offered, including here, about when American small-town down towns, and in particular, ours, started to disappear and all of the theories, to include the ones offered by on-line commentators who think their dogmatic tone converts their opinions into facts, make valid points, if finding a solution included searching for the guilty.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really get us anywhere or bring anything. It's really not a who's to bless or who's to blame situation. But we abandon that notion only with the greatest of reluctance. The key should be a solution that benefits the greatest number of our residents and businesses at the most reasonable cost at an acceptable rate and pace of change. It's not where we start it's where we finish and it matters not where we've been but where we're going. We can argue summer and sunshine through winter and snowstorm about what was and why or we can be here now. You decide, I already have.
-bill kenny        

7 comments:

Philly's said...

Amen

Philly's said...

Amen

Philly's said...

Amen

Philly's said...

Amen

dweeb said...

Thanks for reading!

You are a business willing to put your money (cheese steak) where your mouth is. If you were large enough to be a corporation, the Supreme Court says you'd be a person (something to shoot for?).

If we are not willing to change as a people, as a city or as a society, we cannot ever be surprised, diappointed or dismayed when nothing improves.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I own a retail business in downtown Westerly. The reason I'm there and not Norwich is simple - My customer would never go there.

Re-creating a downtown is more about atmosphere and less about building new stuff.

Norwich is full of those businesses that prey on low income (or no income) people. Should Norwich re-invent itself by giving people who actually spend money a reason to go to Norwich, while ensuring their safety - perhaps Norwich can make a comeback. I for one, would be willing to give a retail business a try. I just want some notion that I'll be safe, and that people will actually shop.

I know - its tough. Once a downtown spirals downward into low/no income land, the turn-around is tough.

Here's a few ideas:

- Subsidize art in downtown by cut rate rents and maybe some tax cuts.
- Do not approve businesses in the downtown that will not advance the vision.
- Increase security and arrest vagrance.
- Get the Chamber to help with marketing storefronts and providing mentorship with first time business owners.
- Have events in the downtown, such as "ladies night", 20% sales town-wide.

Anyway - Norwich has potential. What it lacks is vision.

Tom Desrosier
http://www.dare2believe.com

dweeb said...

Tom,

Thanks for stopping by and good luck navigating safe passage on the seas of commerce in Westerly.

Don't think I'll give up trying to interest you in where I live because that's not how I roll.
Please let me know how I can get you to take a second look at Norwich.

Best wishes to you and yours from me and mine.

bill kenny