Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 156
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 12, 2002

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Phase I of the downtown improvement plan is almost done; Iíll grant that itís pretty (but I never said I thought it wouldnít be). Now that plans have begun for phase II, letís see if the City and Main Street can avoid the mistakes that riled so many people in the first phase.

For starters, letís see if they can avoid narrowing streets and alleys excessively with the now-infamous bump-outs. Those ugly black tire marks already showing up just donít go well with the lah-de-dah Victorian atmosphere desired.

Then, letís see if they can avoid placing trees right in front of entrances or in the middle of awnings. Maybe upstairs residents wonít have to threaten to cut trees down so their entryway is accessible to emergency services.

Maybe next they can plan to compensate property owners for taking their property. You know, the store owner is the actual owner of the sidewalk in front of the property, as well as any spaces or structures underneath. Many of these sidewalks are fairly recent, and the store owner should be paid the undepreciated value of his contribution to the cost of the walk Ė not to mention any usable underground space that was taken from him. Thereís something in the 5th Amendment that prohibits private property being taken for public use without just compensation.

They could explain to each property owner the effect of an extended construction period on his or her business. That way, the business owner can lay aside money to pay bills when the customers arenít coming in Ė or even close the doors to avoid greater losses.

Finally, Main Street needs to keep quiet about its desire to tax downtown property owners so it can continue to promote things which property owners may not want. Especially if Main Street retains its system of hand-selecting board members to the exclusion of those who question its operation. I suspect an open process might result in wholesale changes.

You know, I think Warrensburg missed a real opportunity. So many other cities have moved the appearance of their downtown district back 100 years; many of these had a lot better Victorian resources to start with. Warrensburg could have filled a unique niche by returning downtown to what seems to be the most popular area for nostalgia today Ė the 1950s. Oh, well!

See also Gadfly 149, Gadfly 146, Gadfly 140, Gadfly 50 and Gadfly 47 for earlier comments in the issue.

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