the “eastern echo” chimes in

The student paper at Eastern Michigan University suggests we scrap the Water Street plan altogether, and, if I’m reading this correctly, leave the future of the town in the hands of the French family, me, and my Michigan Design Militia coconspirators. Here’s a clip:

…Maybe it’s time for Ypsilanti to think more about doing small, local things well. Organizations like the Michigan Design Militia, responsible for the Shadow Art Fair, and the flourishing of Depot Town restaurants should give Ypsilanti some glimpses of what could be…

While I appreciate the recognition, I’m not sure that the models presented by either the Shadow Art Fair or the successful restaurants of the French siblings are ones that can sustain a city of our size. I do agree with the sentiment that we should look at growing our own entrepreneurial base instead of looking to lure businesses here, however, if that’s what the editors of the “Echo” were getting at. And, I’ve been saying for a long time that we should try to capitalize on the fact that artists are being priced out of the Ann Arbor market, especially in the wake of the Tech Center closing. (I don’t know if anyone will remember back that far, but several years ago, I was suggesting that the historic Peninsular Paper plant be converted to serve as artists’ workspaces and galleries. Instead, the building was torn down and replaced by another complex of student apartments, which will one day, I’m quite confident, will be as run down as those that came before it.) The point I’m trying to make is that I agree with the sentiment of the editorial, but I don’t know that it’s enough. I want local entrepreneurism and a thriving arts scene to drive our recovery, but I don’t know that we have that kind of time to work with. Maybe, if we hadn’t gone into debt on the Water Street gamble, it would be a different matter, but, given the fact that we’re so far in the hole, I don’t know that we have the luxury of time. (The “Echo” link comes courtesy of Ypsi-Dixit.)

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  1. ol' e cross
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This is a bit disturbing, but I actually agree with Brian Robb’s post on the topic, almost in its entirety.

    If you want to know my opinion, gulp, follow the link to his site.

  2. Ted Glass
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    What’s that they say about broken clocks?

  3. mark
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I think Brian probably has about a good a handle on this as anyone… I may be misreading him, but it sounds like he’s coming down somewhere between the two extremes. He isn’t saying categorically that we shouldn’t invest another dime, and he isn’t saying that we should try to invest our way out of the hole. That’s kind of where I’m at right now too. I think everything needs to be on the table, but I think that an incredibly high bar would need to be cleared before we open up the purse strings again.

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