Tom Blount: War is hell, especially in your hometown!
Tweeeeeeeeeeeeet! That chirping sound is from a referee’s whistle, not a social media pathway. Time out! Give us a break!
City Council, City Project, Ignite High Point, Save the City Project, We Heart High Point, bloggers and interested and even disinterested High Pointers all could/should pause for a few weeks. That’s necessary for:
The rhetoric to tone down [a lot!];
Allowing those interested in doing so to concentrate on filing for election and get campaign ducks lined up;
Waiting to hear what the study on the impact of street-dieting that City Council ordered tells us.
City government to focus on its city manager search; and
Economic Development Corp. President Loren Hill to get his blood pressure back to normal.
Back in the middle of the 20th century, one of Coca-Cola’s slogans claimed “it’s the pause that refreshes.” Henry Clifford “Doc” Carlson was Pitt’s basketball coach from 1922 to 1953 (367-247, three national championships). He also became Pitt's director of student health services in 1932, holding that position until his retirement in 1953. In both roles, he conducted an experiment with one of his Pitt teams. He had players drink Coke when they came to the bench for each rest from game action. After several games, Carlson concluded that, rather than Coca-Cola, it indeed was the pause that refreshed his players.
Now, let’s pause and refresh!
The Library Square idea (first made public by Elijah Lovejoy) and a version of the “dieting” of several blocks of N. Main Street have been on the “plan” for the Uptowne corridor for at least five years – long before Andres Duany and his firm parroted/pirated local public ideas. Let’s all wait six weeks, let voices calm and tempers cool. Perhaps an umpire (as Tom Haggai did in the middle of the Hospital Wars) will step forward to help create a united effort for true implementation of the plan for eventual revitalization of eight neighborhoods in 11 square miles of the inner city. Perhaps even a defined market district would emerge from such collegial activity.
Did you feel the relief that I did when Wednesday’s edition of The High Point Enterprise was City Project debate-free?
Some points to ponder:
It’s well past time to knock off the childish personal attacks.
The City Project was formed by City Council in 2007 to implement the Core City Plan. What Council giveth, Council can taketh away, especially if implementation steps, or lack of them, aren’t to its liking.
It takes face-to-face conversation, not confrontation, with two or more “sides” to achieve true compromise. One side merely throwing one idea after another at a wall, hoping (as some folks do while trying to determine if pasta is al dente) something will stick isn’t the way to compromise. It merely keeps rhetoric at cacophonous levels.
Wise, highly talented city manager candidates (30ish or older) aren’t likely to be drawn to a community at war.
We must avoid stymieing High Point Economic Development Corp. efforts.
I was reminded, during a recent conversation with Hill, of what the editorial board of the Herald & Review in Decatur, Ill., termed the “front porch speech” some three decades ago when similar pull-us-up-by-the-bootstraps “wars” were raging there. John Dunn, a Decatur City Council member from 1971 to 1975 and Illinois State representative for the Decatur area from 1975 to 1995, explained to members of the community how difficult it would be to sell their houses if they stood on their front porches and constantly complained about how much in disarray the houses were inside.
Hill believes constant repetition (in public gatherings and the media) that “High Point property values are decreasing,” “High Point has fewer quality of life amenities,” and “this town is dying” make it much more difficult to draw companies (and the jobs they bring) to the community. Hill’s success indicates he knows about what he talks.
So, let’s all take a deep breath, let everything settle for a few weeks and then get everyone necessary (including bloggers) together, in something bigger than a sea-can, to come up with the most surefire, united plan for revitalization possible, then begin taking the action necessary to start getting the job done.
We survived the Hospital Wars, the Randleman Lake Wars, the School Consolidation Wars, the Mall Wars. We can survive this war, too, together.
Tom Blount retired as editor of The High Point Enterprise in 2012.