By Thornton Crowe
An interesting conversation with a friend prompted a discussion about Salisbury's Downtown Plaza and what happened to the area as we knew it when we were little kids. There were all kinds of stores and fond memories but when you look at it now, it just looks like this vast wasteland, even in the light of a regular workday. Even in the Eighties, downtown had a little more pulse. The WMDT station looked clean and fresh rather than the mold-smelling eyesore it is today.
Besides yelling litigants leaving and lawyers going to court, downtown is not where it's all happening, contrary to the dippy commercial which molests my television daily Truth be told, it's liken to those burned out ghost towns in Michigan and Ohio. Most of the storefronts are empty, denoting decades of deterioration from neglect - nothing close to its former glory.
When did it this happen?
This whole Plaza concept goes back to a rage started in the early Seventies when many downtowns installed walking outdoor mall as a way of revitalizing the dying main street. With malls springing up throughout America, it gave shoppers a different experience from standard strip malls and big mega-level malls. Here, the Salisbury Mall became 'the' meeting place on Friday and Saturday nights; thus replacing downtown's appeal.
|Charlottesville's Downtown Plaza|
What went wrong?
Well, for the folks at City Hall, it should be reiterated, Salisbury is not very business-friendly. Sure they say they like small business but that's a coined phrase that sounds neat-o. The truth is the City wants to pick and choose who gets to buy buildings and move in downtown, and it appears from the lack of businesses, they don't have too many friends.
Look at all the businesses that have come and gone over the years... It's understandable that Vernon Powell wanted to be out by the Centre but there have been little beauty shops and trinket/junk stores like the two near the stop sign - now all gone. There's only a couple of eateries there but they have strange hours, are expensive and unpredictable.
Additionally, how many years have they charged for parking? It's really absurd to believe we are Baltimore, Washington or Philly that we should have paid outdoor parking or parking meters. The meters are an 'eye sore' but also they don't provide enough revenue to make them worth their being a deterrent to potential shoppers. Plus, employees and business owners don't get a break either.
Can it be fixed?
|Charlottesville's Plaza with Movie Theater|
Additionally, Day and SPD Chief Barbara Duncan would need to get honest with themselves about downtown crime and seriously crack down on any criminal elements in the area at all times. Hence, this means beat cops would replace meter maids. Perhaps instead of getting a fancy drone to spy on good residents, we could get them a horse or two so they could be all fancy and snappy!
There are plenty of successful models to show the City how it can be achieved successfully, but the trick for Day is to be open to trying what's proven to work!
It seems like such a shame to see downtown continue to fall into this incubus of decay, considering its once rich history. However, until Day wakes up and sees the light of day, it will continue to fall into disrepair, thus, making it harder for people to envision it as anything other than the ghetto it's become.
Would you like to see the downtown area come back to its former splendor every day instead of just one Friday a month and New Year's Eve?