Tonight in downtown Norwich, or as much of downtown as there is, at 6:30 in the Wauregan Hotel's ballroom is a forum that has the potential to be a poster-child for "things government can and should do" that aren't earth shaking and/or void where taxed or prohibited by law.
If the planners have their way, a cross section of the 'process owners' (bigspeak for people in charge of stuff) will sit with (to be hoped) an equal or greater number of shareholders (folks upon whom change is often inflicted) and try to sort out a consensus path of progress on the 'downtown business' challenges which many have over-simplified into 'Houston, we have a parking problem.'
I confess to not having a dog in that hunt or even being able to catch the scent. If I had a nickel for every time in the nearly eighteen years I've lived here that I had a problem finding a place to park, I wouldn't have enough to buy one of those gob-stoppers from a bubble gum machine. But from everything I've heard for years, parking in Norwich is like the weather, except people more often than not use even more colorful language to describe it.
In recent days, the amount of interest in talking about solutions has increased though whether that translates to fixing the problem depends on a lot of people putting aside personal and petty agenda to create a larger, more global means of incorporating seemingly small stuff like 'where should delivery trucks for downtown merchants be allowed to park when loading and unloading' into perspectives that may require addressing issues such as why are there one-way signs every which way all across Chelsea, to whom should a business go when they have a question on customer parking and where should everyone not named Kenny be able to park when they go to a restaurant, a pub or one of the other shops in downtown?
The forum is the result of a lot of folks, but a great deal of the heavy lifting was done by Bob Zarnetske, an alderman and a member of the Public Parking Commission who is also one of (at least) four people seeking to be elected Mayor this November. He has some curious beliefs on holistic (=systemic) solutions-and by 'curious' I mean beliefs not shared by others wishing to become the mayor. Head-shaking, hand-wringing and finger-pointing are the staples in the catalog of responses that many who've lived here for a long time use for issues that perplex others who aren't native to here.
I think it's funny that the one candidate, Mr. NFH (not from here), who gets tarred with the "He's an outsider" brush is the best hope for all the insiders to heal a self-inflicted wound with a long history. Of course, the danger then becomes that people prefer problems that are familiar to solutions that are not. Come early and see if some of us can help the rest of us. I'm told there'll be plenty of free parking-proving the Lord does have a sense of humor, though His timing may need a little work.