Sunday, January 01, 2012

The great big hole in Cheyenne's downtown makes for a hole in its soul

Ball drops at the Depot Plaza on New Year's Eve, causing all of us to think good thoughts about downtown Cheyenne's future.
After two years of railing against Wyoming's woeful public education system, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle editorial staff is shifting its focus.

It's time to kick Cheyenne in the ass.

The city is "mired in the doldrums and doing little to find its way out." It has "lost its desire to chase after pre-eminence." Cheyenne needs to "recapture the vision of being a great city."

Most shocking of all, the WTE has discovered that there is a a great big hole in the middle of downtown. It's not a metaphoric hole, either, but a very real one.

The downtown hole is a manifestation of Cheyenne's lack of vision. I recently asked the question of whether any other city of Cheyenne's size would tolerate a mega-hole to exist at its city center for seven years. A gas explosion leveled almost a city block in downtown Bozeman two years ago. The hole was filled in short order followed by rebuilding. Downtown Deadwood was able to fill its downtown hole (an old mine) with businesses and now has a bustling economy. Many other Rocky Mountain cities have faced explosions and blights and economic downturns. They have come up with viable plans to enliven their downtowns. 

My wife Chris and I went to the downtown New Year's Eve festivities last night. It was great to see so many people downtown. That rarely happens outside of Cheyenne Frontier Days or summer's Friday night concert series. Art Design & Dine has brought some life to downtown each second Thursday but it's still struggling to catch on after two years. Unfortunately, one of the participating AD&D galleries soon will be closing.

WTE identifies what it missing from downtown development: "visionary thinking and risk-taking." We've seen visionary thinking exhibited in the LightsOn! Project at the Hynds Building, which hosted a rocking party last night. We're also seeing some of that with the Dinneen Building and the accompanying screetscaping. Much more is needed.  

I'm with the WTE on this one. They plan to fill their op-ed pages to calls for an end to the miasma that had led to status as a second-rate city of the West.

I'll be reading.

As you might expect, there are some bright spots in Cheyenne's present. We'll talk about those too...


larry kurtz said...

Wyoming Democratic Party hiring: @WyoDems.

Happy 2012, Wyoming!

Michael Shay said...

Larry: Herein lies the difficulty with the Wyoming Democrats. I clicked on the Twitter link and got nothing. I went to the Wyo Dems web site and couldn't find anything further. The Dems web site is a joke. I hope SD and MT Dems do better jobs on the web. And Happy New Year to you too.