Bring on the trolley

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

I figure some people will be criticizing the decision to field a trolley to tote folks around downtown as “another boondoggle.”

I won’t be among them for a couple of reasons.

I’ve heard some people who have invested in downtown businesses say they feel the city perhaps “over-hyped” downtown. They made substantial investments and are not all seeing the traffic they were led to believe would be here. It’s likely it will come, just not as quickly as they might have hoped.

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Most of these are restaurants and they have to basically rely on those who work downtown who can walk to them for lunch business. With limited time for lunch, people who have to drive would likely rather go to Kelly’s, the new Mexican place on Godwin, Ruby Tuesdays and the like where they can pull up to the door and park instead of having to drive around the block downtown looking for a space and then perhaps have a little hike to get where they are going.

The thinking, according to Assistant to the City Manager for Downtown and Village Development (ACMDVD?) Elizabeth McCoury, the trolley, if indeed it comes to pass, will be able to pick up those who work in say Suffolk Industrial Park and drop them off downtown to eat or be tried or whatever it is they need to do downtown and then drive them back.

It’s a win-win situation. Plus, it will look cool going through downtown.

And remember, it’s only “experimental” at this point. If indeed it becomes a reality, its future will be determined by usage. If nobody’s uses it, it will likely be scrapped.

But there’s more: it’s not going to cost any Suffolk taxpayers anything except for those in the proposed downtown overlay taxing district, almost all businesses and professionals, who will pay an additional 12.5 cents on their property tax rate to fund things like more frequent trash removal, street and sidewalk cleaning, trolleys, etc. If those folks don’t like it, then … I don’t know, I guess they’ll just have to vote their council representative out of office. Oops, I guess they already did that. (Sorry about that, I just couldn’t resist.)

But the main reason I like it is because it’s risky. It could be a flop, but maybe not. People have invested their hard earned money as well as time and sweat in improving Suffolk. Trying to give them a hand is the least we can do. You can’t be afraid to make a mistake. Everybody makes them. The only people who don’t are people who aren’t doing anything. I say bring it on.