I am writing in response to my friend Matt Uram’s letter that appeared in this space Thursday.
Although his passion and dedication are to be admired, Uram’s anger, I believe, is misdirected and without cause. His assertion that inaction by Washington Mayor Brenda Davis and city council has stymied business growth or revitalization is only valid if you accept the proposition that tweaking existing ordinances would generate measurable growth, which history has shown will not. Council has a responsibility to weigh the equity of offering additional benefits to new businesses against rights of existing businesses who have carried the freight for so many years.
If we’re being asked to accept the corollary that doing “X” will result in “Y,” one need only look to the not-too-distant past and the downtown revitalization project. The plan was to remake the downtown to make it more attractive to businesses who would surely locate here if there were new streetscapes and lighting improvements. The expected result was to be a bustling downtown and thriving merchant center. Some $16 million later, the metaphoric result was that of a pancake 8 feet in diameter being dropped from a height of 2 inches.
There are numerous signs of regrowth within the city. Look to South Main Street and the Upper Crust restaurant, which just expanded to another location within the same block, the recently completed expansion of Chapman Corp. and the multi-million dollar rehabilitation of the Trust building. All of which were done with little or no interference by city government.
This mayor and council have been proactive in implementing plans to eliminate blight and Mayor Davis and I have both participated in the Coro Civic Leadership program to engage private citizens and business to work for the greater good of the whole community which will lead to further development.
Like anyone from my generation I am nostalgic for our downtown, but our city has changed, and if you think it’s dead, try to get through traffic at Jefferson and Wiley avenues on any given day. Growth has shifted not disappeared.
Joseph M. Manning
Manning is a Washington city councilman.