(WINDSOR, ON) – A North Carolinian community has found a way to take the destiny of its downtown into its own hands. It is something Windsor should consider after so many failed attempts to revitalize its core.
The American town in question, Kannapolis, now ultimately controls 46 acres of office and retail buildings. In a March 12 post on its website, it describes the daring move as simply a means to an end, with the end being to, “… stimulate development …” in its downtown.
Mayor Darrell Hinnant expects the bold initiative will accelerate the revival of the heart of town and bring, “… millions of dollars in jobs, services and products which will be available to our citizens. People want to live, work and play in the downtown.”
It is not such a wild idea.
In fact, it pretty much equals what Leamington’s town leaders have done. They are taking ownership of some of the best urban land on the north shore of Lake Erie by buying shorefront property to link Leamington dock with Seacliff Park.
A gleaming town mayor, John Paterson, was quite pleased with what the tomato capital is doing. The local paper reported October 10 that he was proud as punch to have his council, “… take control of the major components of our waterfront. We’d like to clean up the dock and repave it.”
It reportedly cost the town $1.7 million for this phase. It is also working with a few other properties to complete the project to revitalize its dock area.
Leamington, of course, is run by some very foresighted politicians who are out to provide amenities to local taxpayers, rather than punish them like the Windsor council does.
A splash pad in Seacliff is not only loved by locals, but tourists as well, and uniquely boasts a big tomato which fills with water and then pours down on excited children in its path.
They love it.
Windsor, of course, doesn’t believe in giving anything to its citizens. It closes public amenities with great abandon and puts up a waterpark. Then, insidiously, raises the entry fee so fewer and fewer taxpayers can afford it.
However, there really is nothing to stop the wholesale purchase of its historic city centre. Certainly, money can never be tagged as an issue. Solely because the council has more than it knows what to do with.
Council is now amassing over $60 million to pay for a not needed city hall. Essex County, facing many of the same issues haunting Windsor’s old darling, solved all of its problems by renovating its hall at a cost of only $6 million.
The money council is spending on swim meets, over $21 million, the new hall, a silly under Riverside Drive tunnel, and many other frivolities, would probably cover much of what it would cost to buy a large chunk of the city’s heart.
It could then get creative and develop a solid, self-sustaining future for what has been an irritating sign of the city’s decline. Imagine what could be done if one entity was in full control. Masterful changes could be made to bring the core into the 21st Century.
Once upgraded, the city could then sell off sections or shares in the whole downtown to recoup its investment, or even sell naming rights to a local credit union to have it present the area.
If done properly, taxpayers could earn quite the bonus while, through their elected council, like Kannapolis and Leamington, take proper control of what will be a unique municipal asset.
Will it happen? Of course not.
It is not even a thought in the phoney 20-year plan of ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens. He sees his role as continuing to give crushing blows to taxpayers to make their lives miserable while he basks in the 2 watt glow of a pretend world spotlight.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.