Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shocking news...

Despite the best efforts of many to drum up unnecessary controversy, it looks like we'll have to hold off on our righteous indignation for now.

As the county works to refine a planned makeover of downtown Columbia, at least one landmark business - Clyde's restaurant - is expected to keep a home on the Town Center lakefront, said Marsha S. McLaughlin, director of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning.

The restaurant, which last month celebrated its 30th anniversary in Columbia, faced the prospect of losing its building when Town Center is redeveloped. But McLaughlin has moved to reassure the restaurant and its patrons.

"No one is trying to get rid of Clyde's," she said. "Clyde's is what people like about downtown."

Paul Kraft, the restaurant's general manager, said he has been told that Clyde's lakefront location will not be put in jeopardy.

"We're not panicked or nervous," Kraft said. "We're getting all types of calls of support [from customers]."

The restaurant, which serves upscale American saloon food, is housed in a building on the Lake Kittamaqundi waterfront that also is home to the Columbia Association and the Tomato Palace restaurant.

Residents have been concerned about Clyde's since the county-sponsored planning charrette about the future of downtown Columbia, which included a discussion of possibly razing the building to make way for an open lakefront vista.

The fact that this was ever a concern is something I cannot understand. Even if the (ugly, characterless, boring, old, needs-to-be-torn-down-anyway) building does get demolished, how exactly would that preclude Clyde's from moving to another location on the lake or taking up residence in the replacement building? Okay, so I understand the concerns about changing the interior and possibly screwing with the cramped atmosphere we've grown to love, but what about the possibility of rehabilitating the top few floors of the building and leaving Clyde's and the Tomato Palace (home to Columbia's best pre-dinner bread) unscathed?

The final thing that annoyed me about this faux outrage was the fact that the building's fate was not going to be determined by the charrette, the planners, or the Columbia Association, which somehow got unfairly rapped up in this mess, but rather by the owners , General Growth. Many, however, choose to use this potential non-incident to indict the charrette in general, saying the outcomes were predetermined by a conspiracy of CA, elected officials, General Growth, and those nefarious, new urbanist planners (damn you, planners!).

I'd like to use this story as a stepping stone onto a soap box for a minute. Please, to everyone reading this, if you know one of the pessimistic folks who have already determined the charrette was a sham, tell them to shut up for a while and stop judging a finished product we haven't seen. If we could all just let the process play out for another few weeks--the county will present a refined plan on January 19--we'll see if there's real cause for outrage, which I support when there is due cause, or if many have just spent the last few months wasting breath.

I apologize for the hostility of this post. But I've been seething over the unwarranted accusations lobbed at the charrette, its organizers, and facilitators since well before it even began and couldn't contain myself any longer. I expected more of Columbians--hope, optimism, trust, reason, patience. Instead, all I hear are cynics and critics.

1 comment:

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