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Re: “Choice City

I agree with what B-reazy said, to which I will add, in large letters because it should be shouted from the rooftops: CLEAN THE JOINT UP! I live in Harbor Town. Occassionally I will walk or bike to the bank, post office, drugstore, etc. downtown. Main Street, especially, is filthy (a problem in many areas of the city, I know). Garbage, yes, but also the smell of feces and urine - and not just of the equine or canine variety. Even in warm weather there are planters that are nothing but dirt and the trash that accumulates in them. Where are bike racks for those who choose to go gas-less? Not at the bank, or the post office or the drug store. Fewer benches for the homeless to sleep on means fewer benches for the rest of us to sit on. Much of what tourists come to Memphis for centers on downtown. Yet our "front yard" looks like the city dump. Weeds sprouting from tree grates. Loose or broken pavers fit to trip up a walker or biker.

The day before yesterday I rode downtown to run errands. When I was done I stopped to sit on a bench in Court Square and drink a bottle of water and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. There was a woman and her pre-teen and 2 teenagers on an adjacent bench. She asked me where they had to go to catch a carriage ride. Turns out they were here from Chicago on the kids' spring break because the teenagers are Elvis fans. We talked about what they had done so far, and what they'd like to do while here. The mom commented on the dirtiness of downtown. Here was a middle-class family of tourists that believe, as many do, that Memphis is a good place to visit, but they wouldn't want to live here.

I can't fault the City of Choice as an initiative. Yes, we certainly need to attract and retain people in the educated and creative classes who pay taxes that can fund improvements. And we need to have jobs and safe, decent neighborhoods for them to come to. We also need to attract tourists who will spend money. But first, and most importantly, a city needs to be good to the people who already live here. Downtown is an extension of my neighborhood. I like it, I use it. I want it to be better. For myself, certainly, but also for those tourists who visit and spend money, and for any of them who might have such a fantastic time in a safe and clean downtown that they decide they want to live here: PLEASE CLEAN IT UP.

Posted by RB on 04/01/2010 at 12:54 PM


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