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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Lynchburg Midtown Dream Crashes Against Reality

After a 190,000 spent of the Lynchburg taxpayers money, the Lynchburg planning Commission has roughed out a plan that incorporates the suggestions of their, out of town, Dover consultation partner.

On September 14, they are going to the citizens to explain their logic of eminent domain, restrictive building codes, tougher city property inspections, and a general attitude of why this is good for us.

They will sit before the citizens, who will be composed mostly of those who have a financial stake. Meaning those that will either be on or off, the gravy train of monetary gain or loss. The ordinary citizen of midtown will be most likely absent. The productive ones will be headed to their second job. And others, will be just trying to figure out ways to make ends meet.

The Planning Commission has a dream, a vision that was inspired by a 190,000 dollar ticket they bought from Dover. But sometimes you just have to wake up. The Plaza, the center piece of the plan, is owned by Sandor Development. Sandor Development would have a considerable stake in this plan was at all feasible.

Yet Sandor Development, a company that specializes in strip shopping centers is not buying into the dream. They point out simply that this an area of poverty and rising crime. You are just not going to find upscale business investors. The data is just the data. And although, the city wanted to kill the messenger of bad news, Sandor has stood its ground. And implied was the idea that Sandor had its own plan of development and the city could take it or leave it.

Sandor was not going to sell its property. And Sandor further expressed its displeasure that Dover, the grand planner, would not even return their emails. The city's response to this was well their job was done, you only get so much for a 190,000 dollars nowadays.

And while the city is planning to spend more money on consulting 78,000 is in the budget next year, were they not paying attention at all to Sandor.

Sandor was telling the city you have to solve the problems of poverty and crime first. What does that entail, bringing better paying employers to the city and provide the residents of midtown with job training to fill those jobs.

The city of may have a dream for midtown. A shape shifting one that will try to transpose how the city would look, but are they looking at how the residents are going to pay in increased property taxes, without a subsequent raise in the per capita income of the area.

Or is the city's plan an attempt to shove these lower income residents out of the city. The city council, an elected body, seems more in touch with the dream of midtown rather than the hard everyday facts that the citizens of midtown face, most primary the need is better employment.

And while the city claims a barebones budget, you just can't help to wonder why 78,000 more needs to be spent on a further dream. And with courtesies to guests, the planning commission plans to fork out another 2,500 dollars of our tax money. Who their guests are is anyone's guess. Perhaps, an added gift to the consultants.

We feel the city should take a hard look at what is important to the residents. The elections maybe in May, and they may feel secure with that fact of low voter turn out has insured their positions in the past, but the citizens may soon say, wake up from the dream city council and have a taste of our reality. If the city council cannot regain touch with the community, it may be time to vote them out.

Previous posts on the midtown plan:

Lynchburg Midtown Plan: The Beginning of the Controversy

Lynchburg Spends 190,000 Dollars on Midtown Plan: Do What?

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