knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

MP in the hizzy

G'morning, MetroPulse. Joe Sullivan talks about, what else, downtown preservation in Insights. No opinions, really, just a pretty straightforward presentation. The city is faced with a decision: to raze the 500 block of Gay Street for the new "transit center" (for which there is as yet no design), or to preserve the row of buildings out of respect for their historic significance.

Seriously, I'm as much a perservationist as anyone. I think downtown is great, and I think that preservation is inherently good and moral as well as financially and socially beneficial. The block in question certainly merits consideration. There is the radio station where Roy Acuff got his start, a Walgreens where desegregation sit-ins occured (the nature of which are a mystery to me), and the old S&W Cafeteria. These are all important places, and they are all registered.

There hasn't been a big push to halt their potential destruction yet, though, and I think that's a disturbing sign. Don't worry, people will protest the removal of these historic buildings. They always do. The problem is, though, that many of the people who will protest didn't even know those buildings were there until their destruction was announced. I assure you that many who are or will be against the city's current plan could not locate the old WROL on a map or even in person.

Knoxville has a lot of great things worth preserving, but it's a little...um...hypocritical to demand for the preservation of things that were previously being left to their own ruin. Preservation is proactive (as much as I hate that word), and if historic buildings are meaningful enough to save from the bulldozer, then they should have been meaningful enough to invest some money and effort into before now. I certainly don't want them taken down, but then again, I couldn't show you where WROL was either.

The other issue that Sullivan mentions is the expansions and so-called improvement of Krutch Park. If the downtown planned layout is reshuffled to preserve some older buildings (now that some people know we have historic buildings down there), then the Krutch Park work is going to be embarrassingly needless. It is intended to become a pedstrian throughway from Market Square to the planned Cinema. What's absolutely shameful, however, is that the city strongarmed the park renovations into approval and got working and wrecking as soon as possible. Now, not only is half of Market Street shut down (limiting access to Market Square, The East Tennessee Historical Society, and Fairbanks), but the ill-advised and cumbersome renovations become a prime reason for the city to proceed with the rest of their plan, which, by the way, was developed before feasbility studies and historic considerations could be completed.

Yay, Knoxville.
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