Here is the lead sentence in an article on April 2 concerning the former Edgewood Plaza site: “Plans to redevelop the former Edgewood Plaza and surrounding properties are moving along slowly while the city deals with environmental and property acquisition matters.”
Now here is a headline The Herald Bulletin wrote on an editorial on Edgewood Plaza from Sept. 19, 2012: “Too much talk and not enough action on Edgewood Plaza.”
That was seven months ago and the talk goes on from hired consultant group Development Concepts Inc., DCI, which is costing the city $75,000 and is still talking to small groups on the west side about what they’d like to see in their area of town. Well, that’s easy: retail, manufacturing and the jobs that go with them. And DCI can do nothing about that. It’s unclear whether even the city can do anything about that, but wondering what people on the west side want should never have been in question. And the city never needed a consulting firm to find out what people wanted in their westside neighborhood, as the newspaper argued last September.
The west side used to be a dynamic area, with Kmart, Pay Less and numerous fast food places and small shops, some of which are still hanging on. But when the area lost McDonald’s, the writing was on the wall. Rarely does a McDonald’s go out of business. Then came the demolition of Edgewood Plaza and the ensuing search from the city about what to replace it with.
The city is still no closer to bringing the area back to prosperity. Everyone has a wish list of what they’d like to see in the area, from coffee shops to hardware stores. Westside residents deserve those businesses, plus some industry that can put Anderson back to work.
But it will take a lot more than talk to get the area back on its economic feet. The city seems to be marking time, hiring DCI to have the appearance it is doing something but in reality the redevelopment of the west side is stuck in neutral. It’s time for some action. It’s time for one shop to open its doors so others will follow. It’s time for a determined effort to revitalize the west side. Oh, those environmental and property acquisition matters? Deal with them already.