Reader says, "Here's what I think."
Letter To The Editor:
Regarding your "What do you think" column in The People News. specifically the "they get the money" portion in the July, 2006 issue, I totally agree with your assessment. Particularly, the using of public funds to support private entities, and the use of said funds to benefit the rich and politically connected with no benefit to the average citizen.
Here's what I think:
The museum at Five Points is a complete joke. My wife and I visited the museum shortly after we moved to Cleveland, and found nothing that would interest anyone. Except perhaps the families of the "founding fathers" of the city and a few other rich and politically connected people who receive some benefit from the museum's existence. There is certainly nothing there that would interest tourists or the casual passer-by.
The local Keep America Beautiful is another joke. They sponsor occasional volunteer efforts to clean up areas that are visited or seen by very few; and in the meantime let litter on public roadsides pile up. They ignore clean up of public areas in southeast and southwest Cleveland; and fail to support any code-enforcement efforts to have trashed private property cleaned up.
I'm not too sure what MainStreet Cleveland is really supposed to be doing. They certainly have not encouraged any new, unique, or trendy business to locate downtown. There is no parking. There is no pedestrian-friendly mall areas or walkways downtown. Downtown Cleveland is full of government offices, lawyers, and banks. If one really wanted to revitalize downtown Cleveland, they should relocate all the government service businesses from the old downtown area; create some parking; encourage antique shops, boutiques, delis, and small restaurants; use upstairs space in the old buildings for loft-apartments or homes; encourage tourist-friendly shops; and actively market the area.
The retail menu for Cleveland now consists of two Wal-Marts, too many banks, too many drugstores, too many "30-something" restaurants and fast-food places, a million medical offices, and a mall that has clothing stores full of teen-friendly torn- jeans and other hot-body clothing sized 0-6. There are no unique or fashionable shops for the over 40 crowd or senior citizens. I guess this is all right with the city and county politicos, and the very rich that call Cleveland home, because they can afford $3.00/gallon gasoline to drive to Hamilton Place, or perhaps fly to Atlanta for their shopping needs.
I have over 14-years of experience in community development, city administration, the use of public money, and urban revitalization. Most of this experience is outside the state of Tennessee. Never have I seen anything like what goes on in Cleveland except in some small, rural towns of a population around 6,500 to 12,500 people. In these small towns the "business" of the town is controlled by the informal (yet recognized) organization of power bosses, the politically connected, and the town's major employer. I cannot believe that Cleveland has fallen into this mold. If the town is really interested in a vital city-center, they need to take a look at the successes in downtown Chattanooga, Highland, North Carolina, Blue Ridge, Georgia; Fredricksburg, or San Angelo, Texas; and Lake Elsinore, California.
I have been happily retired from the Air Force for over 25-years, and I am not seeking employment. I have, however, offered to serve on lay boards and committees for both the city and county. I thought maybe some new and "outside" ideas might be useful. Apparently, I was wrong. I guess those that control the city/county are satisfied with what they've got.
That is what I think.
Richard Hughes, Cleveland.
Lt.Col., USAF (retired)
(Not the Richard Hughes that is public defender, or any of his family)