when words fail me, which is often, I paint. When words work for me and are available on time, I am surprised.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Ode To Scottsville
It's my turn. Looks like I am the lucky one; today, yesterday, and for who knows how much longer.
The tractors,noise and sink hole are in front of my new business today.
Scottsville is dead, long live the snake bitten holler, just far enough out of reach of the paternalistic university city.
Recently renovated buildings sit vacant all along the road. One of the tax-shelter store owners who held two store fronts open for the past seven years is taking his ball and going home too.
Floods didn't kill it, although armies of them tried.
Hail to the new chiefs, THE "COME HERES" . They sold their family mansions in the Hamptons and purchased beautiful old houses with views of the river for less than an eighth of their profits. They put personalized license plates on their BMW's; Mr. Scottsville" they read.
They looked around at the tenacious, spirited small town where Jason Walton used to like to play the piano no matter how hard his Mama protested, and they were ashamed of Their new town.
Oh The Dew Drop In.
Although it was before my time here,eleven years, I have heard the tales of the days when the boys would get to drinkin, then they'd get to fightin and so and so was thrown right through the plate glass window. That was Scottsville. It was cheap, it was the place where those who wanted to be left out of the rodent race could just hang out with the rodents. Yes, it was decrepit, no matter how many dollars the old mayor got from the US Government to build the levee, it couldn't dry up the pervasive plague that finally took old Scottsville's life.
The plague of the "Come Heres" and their highly contagious "Gentrification" germs.
Eleven years ago, the average rent on the street for both residential and commercial spaces was between $250.00 and $300.00 per month. The same space that was $150.00 per month is currently $800.00 per month. That would be fine, you know, renovations cost of living etc.,fine, except it didn't stop there. No.
The levee went up in the early 1980's and saved the town from complete obliteration. After twelve dry years, some of us got comfortable enough to renovate the victim's of the first plagues.
One insane historian and builder personally removed every brick on six commercial buildings, and diligently re- placed them. Town was bustling, but it still had issues.
Issues, not problems, mind you.
Issues like there are barely any spaces to park a car.
Issues, like the "Come Here's" have a way of becoming Mayor, council, and committee, and they don't like growth or know very much about running a town.
They know alot about being arbitrary and self important and a whole lot about how to harass business owners.
Several business owners simply say enough is enough and take their business elsewhere, where they are appreciated. Several as in fifty businesses that I can name have come and gone in this town of two blocks in the past ten years. Fifty.
Business owners and property owners are harassed about everything from the color of their front doors, "We'd prefer another shade of twilight blue." to the brick detail on their architectural drawings for their six digit renovations. "We can't get used to the commercial building looking so commercial." and "I just can't get a good idea of what it's supposed to look like." Were comments I heard at meetings chaired by interior designers pretending to know something about city planning.
I know something too. It's a good idea to build a levee when the entire downtown is in a flood plane.
It's a good idea to renovate buildings and raise rents proportionately after it is apparent the water will stay out of the buildings.
It's a really bad idea to spend a million dollars (which is already not enough) to cut down all of the trees which used to line the streets, dig up the main street to bury utility lines creating at least six months of unbearable traffic, dirt and changing the parking status from limited to NONE!
Money has been spent to build a batteau park. It's big. It has benches. There is a batteau (an old river raft for commerce)sitting in the middle of a field. A fish out of water, which receives approximately four visitors per year. The space would be better served as a parking lot, a metered one at that.
A town with no parking, no business incentives, no town support is not going to receive more visitors because it's streets are prettier; or is it?
Scottsville is dead.
Pray for it's resurrection.