Friday, December 23, 2011

"The Hole," Cheyenne's perpetual eyesore, is in the news yet again

"The Hole" is the site on Lincolnway that once was the site of the Mary's Bake Shoppe Building. When it burned down in 2004 in a yet-unsolved arson fire, who would have thought it would still be a wreck seven years later. The gold-and-white building across Lincolnway is the Historic Atlas Theatre. Photo: Joshua A. Bickell, Casper Star-Tribune
"The Hole" in Cheyenne is in the news again.

Every other day, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle op-ed pages carries a letter to the editor asking why the city hasn't come up with a plan to fill "The Hole" along downtown's main drag. The correspondent usually is perplexed  that leaders of the state's capital city, the largest metropolitan statistical area in the state, cannot come up with a plan to turn the seven-year-old hole into a building or a park or a retail center or something.

This time around, "The Hole" is the subject of a page 3 article by Joan Barron in the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's statewide newspaper.

Here's a glimpse of a few of the problems holding up progress on the issue: 
Bob Bradshaw, special projects manager for the city of Cheyenne, other city officials and members of the capital city’s Downtown Development Authority are frustrated at the continued presence of the downtown blight because it gives visitors the wrong impression about the character of the city and its residents.
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has worked for the past 18 months to make improvements on “The Hole,” but is limited by available money and its lack of legal authority, DDA board President John Sundahl said. 
The organization budgeted $40,000 to build a fence to shield the lot from public view, but the owner of the Hynds Building refused permission, Sundahl said. 
Some citizens want a park created at the site. Sundahl said the DDA doesn’t have the money. 
He said a park would require filing in the hole and removing the old foundation, which, as the engineers warned, could be problematic.
“It’s a terribly complicated issue,” Sundahl said. “You would think it would be easy as a piece of cake.”
And so on. Read the entire article here

All we hear are excuses. Blame, too. To make it even worse, the whole of Casper is now laughing at us. 

I think we should put the issue in the hands of artists. They could come up with ideas to turn the gaping hole in a work of public art. Digital artists could come up with a way to project an historic building onto the site. Visitors then would think that our historic downtown is actually in one piece. Perhaps our knitters could yarn-bomb the site, assembling a multi-colored network of fabric that would give all of us the impression that something interesting and useful is happening at the site.

Perhaps this is beyond the ken of artists. Many cities have been transforming vacant lots into urban gardens. Our city engineer has said that the site is dangerous, that bricks may come loose from the east wall and tumble onto innocent heads, but maybe we could "seed bomb" the hole, water it down and many crops could grow haphazardly. Squash and beans and cukes could be harvested by guys in helmets or body armor. I'd volunteer to assemble some of the seed bombs (I'll leave the harvesting to hardier souls).

Conventional solutions don't seem to be working. Unorthodox methods may. Do you have any ideas, dear readers?


larry kurtz said...

Deadwood put a Holiday Inn Express in their 'hole' in 2000:

Best wishes and Happy Solstice, Mr. Shay!

Michael Shay said...

Good to know, Larry. And I've been to Deadwood since 2000 and the downtown looks spiffy and quite holeless. Happy New Year and happy holidays to you too, Larry. And happy blogging!