Things are looking up downtown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 5, 2003

New Councilman Bobby Ralph figured the new owner of the Professional Building had an internal magnet that drew people to the meeting of the Downtown Business Association. The room was full to overflowing to hear from Frank &uot;Buddy&uot; Gaddams. We should all be grateful that increasing &uot;gravity&uot; downtown pulled him into our city; he actually intends to transform that corner relic into a tax banquet. He clearly voiced some encouraging news to local &uot;downtown&uot; business owners; big things are expected to turn that area around and he was not referring to the high school restoration. But if he is to be correct the city better get to work on places to &uot;park and be&uot; and not &uot;park and hike.&uot; The near-term car- parking problem has been recognized for over 20 years and finally planners are tuned to solving it. But dribs and drabs flat lots won’t cut it; the answer is &uot;up&uot; and city fathers already blew one opportunity to grab the garden space to grow one.

Interestingly, the Professional Building contains only about 25,000 square feet of space and a large part of that is elevator shaft. Four thousand more, the first floor, is set aside for an upscale eatery. Mr. Gaddams promises there will be no $29 entrees – boy, that’s a relief, and how about a $12.95 max? If I want to throw money away I’ll eat at the Hilton. When those two eateries are in place the popular &uot;Entertainment&uot; book might provide a coupon for something in Suffolk. We either have no restaurants worthy of that tome, or local owners don’t need the business, or the book’s publishers have drawn a line at our boundary. A surprise to me was that only about 50 school administration employees would soak up the balance of the office space. But I agree with Mr. Damiani who said we can count on that number increasing. You guess who gets the top floor; and try to imagine where all those new people will stow their autos? They better come early.

There was some discussion at this gathering of business people, about the number of business owners, and their employees, who take up what few parking spaces there are on the streets and leave their cars parked there all day. If there is a maximum height of stupidity, this has got to be it. I’ve heard complaints about some stores not maintaining regular hours, which would drive potential customers nuts who have heard the familiar &uot;Shop in Suffolk&uot; tune. One new business in town, and I am not being tongue in cheek, is one called &uot;Essential Feng Shui.&uot; Practitioner, Sandra Parker, can consult with you on how to improve your methods of securing business. I’m sure she would start with, &uot;Don’t use up the parking space in front of your store, dummy.&uot; Maybe we should force business owners to buy a special auto decal so they can be issued tickets for being dim-witted.

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The last time I parked on Main my car was towed away at 4 p.m. Did they pull it out behind the Court House where I could easily retrieve it and later pay a fine? No, they towed it several miles out of town to Lester Brothers where East Washington meets 58. That required me to call home, have someone drive into town, pick me up and deliver me to my car’s location and pay them. While this was an effective lesson for me, it is the kind of action that makes one leery about parking on Main, and fosters warm feelings toward one’s city. It also points out a special ignorance on the part of small town traffic planners.

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Pass on this effective idea. When your mail contains those &uot;pre-approved&uot; credit cards, or other junk mail, save the return envelope if it has postage-paid return. Then stuff it full with junk mail you have collected and send it to them at no cost to you. Let them get rid of it. The Post Office just raised your postage costs so this gives you a chance to get even with them. And when you receive one of those lovely Tele-marketing calls say, &uot;Please hold,&uot; set the phone down, ignore it until you hear the &uot;beep beep beep&uot; tone, then hang it up. Works every time and makes you feel good.

Robert Pocklington is resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.