Saving Dinosaur town

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2004

Editor, the News-Herald:

Unless a stray asteroid happens to drop in, or the polar ice cap melts and rises the level of the Nansemond River, there is still time to save what Mr. Pocklington calls downtown &uot;the Dinosaur.&uot; Downtown’s evolution started years ago when the city’s leadership encouraged public/private investment in the neglected district. Gradually derelict buildings have been restored, small businesses are moving in, and old neighborhoods are rumbling back to life again.

But this is no time to sit back and admire the effects of a mini big bang. Compared to Northern Suffolk’s high tech low-stress environment, the pace of economic development in downtown has been near glacial. The key to sustained re-development lies not in a cultural arts or hotel conference centers. The cost, scope, viability and timing of these mammoth projects can be endlessly debated. They are only concrete, brick and steel monuments without a strong diversified economic base bringing people to live and work here. It is the economic health of the district that we must give much greater attention to than we have in the past.

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With continued commitment and strong sustained economic growth to encourage greater private investment, we will soon see something more than what a visitor once called; &uot; the most beautiful looking ghost town in America.&uot; You see, Mr. Pocklington by the swallows soaring overhead, Dinosaurs can evolve into something beautiful and so will Suffolk’s downtown.

James Cook