Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No Means of Visible Support

Today I'll be demonstrating my mad skills in history, logic and math. If their use or even existence, either disquiets or disturbs you, and from what I know of my hometown of the previous twenty years it may, now might be a good time to seek out other reading material elsewhere.

It wasn't even a front-page story in last Friday's hometown newspaper, The Bulletin (appearing above the fold on page three), "City Helping Dance Studio Pay Rent to Tune of $7000." And come to think of it, why wasn't it?

In recent weeks we've had rabbits make the newspaper's front page but not the first-time disbursement of money by the Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) under their Commercial Lease Rebate Program (approved by Norwich residents as part of the bond package in November of 2010)?

Too bad NCDC didn't make a deal with Jimmy Stewart's Harvey. Perhaps then the story might have rated a front page. And if my Mom had married a Kennedy, I'd be living in the White House. Instead, Diane Elder's 3D Dance Studio, at 282 Franklin Street, will receive a (small) rent subsidy to help ease the start-up costs for a business on the outer fringe of the very downtown we all pretend to be so concerned about. Perhaps someday the City Council will close a street in honor of that concern, but until then my heart will carry on.    

And for those of us who search the skies for any portent of progress in the revitalization of Chelsea, as Lao-Tzu offered some 2,600 years ago, "(A) journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And if the foot taking that step is wearing a tap shoe, then so much the better as it will be easier to hear progress when the patter of tapped feet grows to be thunder.

Looking at disbursement and investment vice applications on the NCDC on-line summary I'd argue that there's still not enough demand for financing for any of the three programs. Our tax dollars are in place to do for others what they are doing for 3D Dance and Mediterranean Express but private-sector qualified applicants are still lacking.

So, too, is approval or understanding. That same day of the story, the newspaper's online site asked readers "Should NCDC temporarily pay a portion of a qualifying new business’ rent in order to encourage downtown development?" And by a nearly three to one margin, the answer was "no." No. WTF H?.

NCDC gets blamed for all manner of shortcomings, real and or imagined. I've offered them my fair share of valentines and vitriol through the years but it's rarely eaten as hot as it's served. I don’t think they would claim to be doing The Lord's Work, but this time they are most certainly doing exactly what we, the residents, hired them to do. And it would be nice to remember that instead of long-ago and innumerable slights and injuries. Yet another instance of our yesterday getting in the way of our tomorrow.
-bill kenny

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