Reasons Why This Housing Development Game Should be Cancelled – A Team of Ineligible Players – Part 2

The famous Bill Bradley during his years at Princeton.

Many years ago Princeton University’s basketball team came to Chicago to play the DePaul Blue Demons, coached by Ray Meyer. My husband (a Princeton graduate) and I went off to see the game. Princeton’s slow and deliberate offense was in sharp contrast to the fast break basketball the University of Kentucky plays. It was at UK that I learned what real basketball is about under Adolph Rupp, the man in the brown suit. Do you know the expression – watching wet paint dry? For me, this is exactly what the Princeton game felt like. Out of utter frustration, and before I stopped myself, late in the first half I yelled from the stands, “Shoot the damn ball!” I received a look from the man I was sitting next to in his Princeton cap, my husband, that said, “It is obvious you do not understand the finer points of the game.”

Perhaps I still don’t understand the finer points of what is going on in city government. I am impatient to see for myself what the investigation into wrongdoing, graft, and mismanagement shows. I don’t want to be told by those under investigation what the results say from their auditor or lawyer — the word these days is transparency and nothing less will do. The City Council’s game plan is to try and retain their positions on the team.  The matters at hand, however, are a slam dunk and the game buzzer has gone off.

We can’t possibly think about playing this Tarboro housing game under the current management. It isn’t even the right approach to providing affordable housing! No locker room pep talk can negate a loss of trust and confidence in the people who have been masterminding the skullduggery that’s been going on. Why would we let them have another go at it, at the taxpayers’ expense? We must have a new coach and recruits that will create a further tax base, not strap us with a further burden that only benefits those behind the skulduggery curtain.


Older and historic neighborhoods contribute far more to America today than a sense of evolution and history. Older and historic neighborhoods, unlike any other areas, are providing homes for families from every financial stratum, but particularly for those in need of affordable housing.

I’ve been championing Shotgun housing throughout our historic neighborhoods that are near to the Historic Downtown Center.  “People of all income brackets are attracted to historic neighborhoods because of the quality of the housing, because of the investment protection that a local historic district often provides, because there is usually a wide range of housing styles and sizes available, because typically there are citizen activists committed to advocating for the neighborhood, and because there are few tools other than local historic districts that can defend a neighborhood against inappropriate uses, out-of-scale development, low-quality construction, and the encroachment of objectionable uses. Because the number of households looking for neighborhoods with those characteristics exceeds the supply, historic neighborhoods are in high demand. The answer is not to have fewer historic districts – the answer is to provide historic district protections to more neighborhoods.”    – Donovan D. Rypkema for the National Trust for Historic Preservation


See You  Tomorrow On The Road to the Final Four Part 3






A Downtown Facade Grant Program Being Considered by Rocky Mount City Council

Too many Boarded up-Paint Peeling Buildings

Believe me, this is an important step when talking about saving Main Street. Programs across the country, regardless of what they are called, that have focused on the restoration and renovation of the facades of their commercial Main Street buildings, have been successful in attracting business and downtown life.  After spending some time talking with our new Director of Developmental Services, William Deaton, I can tell you that we have a qualified, enthusiastic, smart, experienced batter in the batter box who is already swinging. In case you need proof of the need to address broken glass, boarded fronts, peeling paint and critical safety problems, here are but a few photographs I have to illustrate the need for this facade program

Let’s Fix All the Broken Glass

The range of work generally included in these facade programs relates to masonry repairs and pointing; façade painting, repair, reconstruction or replacement of historic features; awnings or canopies; signage and exterior lighting; gutters and downspouts; handicap accessibility; and window and door repair or replacement. Even simple changes such as the removal of non-historic materials, repairs, or a new paint job that calls attention to the building’s original architectural details signal positive change.

A Dangerous Situation
Vegetation Growing on Facades-This can be fixed.

The sum of $5.000 has been mentioned per structure and must be spent on exterior improvements.  Grant Eligible Improvements include painting, pointing, brick, masonry, wood, metal, and stucco repair,  business signs and graphics, exterior and decorative lighting, windows, and architectural design. Obviously, the money provided will have to be thoughtfully allocated to get the most bang for the buck. I believe the city should have a list of “must firsts” that start with safety improvements that include fixing broken glass. A panel of experts should be made available for consultation on materials, historic district guidelines, and a few preservation & restoration coaches. This panel can include credentialed volunteer help.  We will need the community to support the facade program every day by coming to see what is going on, bringing coffee and donuts to a workman,  cheering the process on that is needed badly. Are you someone who could serve on a temporary panel because you have some expertise that will be needed?

The storefront is certainly a prominent feature of a downtown commercial building, but the rest of the building is related to it visually through the unity of form and detail. Storefront façade improvements should consider the entire building – window patterns on the upper floors, cornice elements, and other decorative features should be carefully considered, in addition to the storefront itself. 

When I think of Greenville, SC and their remarkable reimagining of themselves, I look at these photographs below that I took several years ago. I believe that Main Street Rocky Mount will be saved too with programs that William Denton and his team have been tasked to lead. Clap your hands and believe along with me. Come to a City Council meeting and take 3 minutes to tell them this is a great place to start and what Main Street needs.



‘Planting Your Flag in the Ground’ – Another City Council Meeting

“If you have eyes to see past the broken glass and boarded facades, if you look up as I do, you will see what I see. Commercial architecture holding the heartbeat and stories of Rocky Mount.” -Stepheny Houghtlin

This quote of mine is one approach to preservation. There are many avenues to pursue when considering what you are interested in.  PRM had a meeting this past Wednesday, Feb 13th, which I led. No preservation was done! It was more like giving a sales pitch (for Saving Main Street) to a group of enthusiastic salesmen hoping to ignite their excitement and have them want to sell my product. Wonderful people were there; the best and the brightest as a matter of fact.  We’ll talk more another time about connecting the dots from A– an interest to B – a plan to D- something gets done.

Wednesday night I was reminded of an AA story that says when someone gets up to give a talk at a meeting, they give three speeches…the one they prepared, the one they give, the one they revise on the way home. I was so busy with the sales pitch that there was no time to talk about the real matter at hand that not only effects Saving Main Street, but supports continued revitalization. This takes strong, honest city government that equates to good practices, a city government that does their job with competence and for the good of the taxpayers. There is no saving anything without that.

For the last three weeks, I have been involved with hundreds of others in what is called civic engagement. As hard as the Council has tried to deflect the issues at hand by bringing up extraneous topics, or pinning the public concerns on what was called a dark shadow, no one is having this kind of diversion anymore.  Whether at home or from a seat at City Hall, we are now focused on what is germane, expecting good governance and an end to the long list of what has gone wrong. The plan the Mayor spelled out last week is not good enough. It is more messing about with a myriad of issues that must be taken care of to the satisfaction of the community.

Two doors down from Davis furniture on Main Street we have this!
Why fire hasn’t struck or the facade come down on Main Street, is a mystery.

The flag that I have planted says we need leadership that will provide the will, enforce the ordinances we have on the books, stabilize the facades, put first things first before expecting me to celebrate a new motel that has obviously taken precedence over  Main Street – again. Why would we put another large project like this in the hands of the current Council and Management until complete order has been restored? Still, I believe we are closer to righting wrongs than before because of this groundswell of public engagement, and talk of new leadership running for seats on the Council. We need policies and procedures that safeguard us from any further graft and corruption and then Preservation will go forward. Plant your flag in the ground beside mine asking for a resolution so we can get on with getting on.

“You must learn how to extract things of value out of things that seem totally worthless.” Pastor Sunday