Letter to the Tribune: Where’s the beef in Garner’s proposals for Scribner Place?

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I wrote the following letter to the Tribune (published around October 19).

THREE STRIKES?

The Tribune’s Oct. 5 editorial in support of the Scribner Place project ends with this thought: “Once Phase I is complete, more businesses will be attracted to downtown New Albany. Scribner Place will help put the downtown back on the entertainment map, and is a win/win project for New Albany residents.”

Optimism like this is uplifting, but certain realities are being omitted. While I remain optimistic about the future of downtown New Albany and supportive of the Scribner Place project, it certainly cannot have escaped the Tribune that there is no discernable plan to achieve the anticipated wave of post-Scribner Place development.

At his October 4 press conference announcing the advent of Phase I, Mayor James Garner was asked three pertinent questions, each coming not from the Tribune, but from a Louisville media representative.

When asked about the prospects for the completion of Phase II, which reportedly includes a hotel, retail space and condominiums, Garner vaguely referred to three unnamed private developers with whom negotiations are under way.

When asked to clarify his oft-repeated comments that Scribner Place would bring people to live downtown, Garner could do no more than mumble and point to the perennially unoccupied second and third floors of nearby buildings as if to suggest that their owners would miraculously see the light after decades of willful negligence.

When asked what plan was in place to achieve the ripple effects of growth that are a chief assumption of the Scribner Place project, Garner again was mute, offering pleasant platitudes along the lines of “wishing will make it so.”

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all of it. Scribner Place is a first step, nothing more, and without a plan for the second, third and even fourth steps, the Tribune’s abundant cheerfulness stands not to berewarded by concrete achievements.

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