I have remembered the Yellow Brick Road song from the Wizard of Oz since I was a child. I used to sing it to my grandchildren when heading out in the car for an adventure. “We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.” I never dreamed I would find it applicable, transpose and lift the lyrics, to describe where Rocky Mount’s City Government is trying to lead us now. In your imagination, you can assign any face you like to the characters, Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, The Lion, and The Wizard of Oz. The good or bad witches.
Perhaps you remember that The Wizard, who has not fulfilled his promises, is exposed when Toto pulls back a curtain, revealing that the “Wizard” is a middle-aged man operating machinery and speaking into a microphone. Play around with this for a minute and you will agree that our Wizard of Oz, who has various identities, is not fulfilling promises to the taxpayers of Rocky Mount, NC. either.
PARKING: Let us not lose sight of the February 14, 2019 Telegram article by Lindell Kay on the Downtown Parking Study. The goal of the study is to determine how best to use parking in support of downtown development, redevelopment, and revitalization. People have been in a dither about parking for The Event Center all along. How was the project allowed to be built in the first place without adequate parking in the plan? Parking on Tarboro Street became part of the answer, sited on property deemed a state environmental brownfield not safe for housing given that it was the site of a dry cleaner and was investigated by state environmental officials. The site has been reviewed and determined to be OK, but wells would not be allowed. Environmentalists question the safety of former industrial sites in connection with housing. On the Yellow Brick Road, we now find out that low-income housing would replace the Tarboro Street parking plan.
“Plans Change,” is what we’ve been told. “Parking on Tarboro was never set in concrete.” but it was the intent sold to ECC for the use of this property. Now we’ve got a proposed project map that includes two large parking garages. Titled the Douglas Entertainment and Business District, the maps show plans by Tennessee-based developer David Hunt to construct two parking decks, two hotels, a retail area, condos, a splash pad and a pedestrian bridge over busy train tracks. A five-level, 500-space parking deck is planned for behind the Event Center along Atlantic Avenue where St. John’s A.M.E. Zion Church is now. A second parking garage with 450 spaces is planned behind a retail and residential area where Tri-Faith now sits.
These new projects set off alarm bells. The current trend of graft and corruption by our own version of ‘the Wizard of Oz’ highlights new possibilities for further skullduggery. That is why nothing can go forward until the investigation of malfeasance is concluded. We must resolve the identities of those involved, and the extent of corruption by the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.
UNDERSTAND: no one is against low-income housing! We agree on the need for parking. (Who isn’t for minimizing housing costs.) But cluster housing built on Tarboro street is the wrong solution. More on housing tomorrow – because, because, because.
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