Haines & Essick’s Closing
I was bummed when I learned that Haines & Essick’s was closing in Decatur. It’s really the only store I regularly shopped at downtown. It was always a nice escape during a busy week. You just don’t get the same feeling shopping in a Walmart. Walmart could be more entertaining but shopping in downtown was therapy, especially after shopping at Walmart. Mostly, I enjoyed taking my kids there because it was a unique Decatur experience. The old building, the squeaky floors, the musty basement smell filled the senses with time and history. I hope another retailer or a few smaller retailers, assuming it will likely be divided up into smaller units, will fill the space. I’d hate to think that I’ll never be able to step foot in that building again. So much of old Decatur is gone and I don’t want to lose what little is left.
Decatur, You’re Killing Me!
Speaking of losing what little is left, I feel like my heart is being stabbed with a dull butter knife every time I drive through the intersection of Pershing and MacArthur. Recently, two corner lots were rezoned for commercial purposes and that means dozens of old oaks are going to be cut down. I actually wrote city council members about preserving those trees a few years ago because I knew, sooner or later, it would be targeted by a developer. I tried to save them. I can’t stand seeing them go.
Decatur Needs a Roadmap
Something that has become very apparent to me over the past year is that Decatur lacks a clear plan for development because some residents are left wondering if their neighborhood is safe from future changes. The intersection of 51 and Ash Avenue comes to mind.
Residents were opposed to commercial development in their neighborhood, and a plan to develop in that area was shot down but it’s likely new fights will come. In fact, our mayor said so. What would be helpful would be a clearly communicated plan for future development and redevelopment. It would avoid a lot of bad feelings and potentially derailing development that would be good for the city.
I think we should sit down with a map of Decatur and go through every single part of the city and state what our future objectives are. The entire community should be involved. Areas that we want to develop, get them ready for development. Areas that we want to preserve, preserve them. Areas that we want to redevelop, get a plan in place to do so. Nobody should be left wondering what may become of their neighborhood. I think it would be helpful for prospective new businesses too. They would know they aren’t going to be up against a fight to locate in an area specifically designated for commercial development. Yeah, we have zoning regulations that kinda does that but as we know, areas can be rezoned and that process can be very ugly and leave a lot of people disgusted with the city.
Most of all, I would like to see a plan in place that is going to ensure that those areas of the city that are stable and attractive to residents remain that way. I want to ensure that those areas that need improvement are going to get it. We’ve had too many examples of disrupting areas that are functioning well, especially on the north side of town. I sure as heck don’t want our northside to become a congested commercial area, similar to Springfield’s west side. It’s downright scary to drive over there and it looks terrible too. Zero character.
We clearly need a plan for our northside that preserves what is good and develops in areas that make more sense. For instance, getting a bridge over 72 on MLK would open up that area to development, and I don’t think many people would be opposed to it. I know councilman Dawson has been pushing for a bridge for several years. I’d like to see it happen too, rather than taking out a desirable neighborhood. I think the neighborhood presents to outsiders what’s good about Decatur. It’s welcoming.
Anyway, I think I’ve written enough for now and I need to get back to my ichthyology paper but it was so nice to write about Decatur again. My months spent away from blogging about Decatur were downright miserable.