Saturday, June 21, 2008

Goldman wants to do WHAT?

Paul Goldman is an idea man. He was Mayor Doug Wilder’s idea man for a long time. Now Goldman wants to be Richmond’s next mayor, the man who will replace his old boss. Candidate Goldman’s newest scheme for Richmond would take Carytown and turn it into a “street fair,” whatever that is. Basically, he wants to ban wheels from the retail strip from the Boulevard to Thompson St.

Click here to read about Goldman’s less-than-bright idea for Carytown in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Paul Goldman has seen the future of Carytown, and it's green with no wheels.

Goldman, a Carytown regular and a candidate for Richmond mayor, is proposing to revamp the eclectic West End shopping district into a pedestrian mall to complement its mix of shops, boutiques and restaurants.

Some merchants, however, were skeptical of the idea.

Under Goldman's proposal, West Cary Street would be closed to cars, bicycles and anything else with wheels from Thompson Street to the Boulevard.

Cary then would be turned into a "street fair," with trees and gardens, that would be unrivaled in Virginia and on the East Coast, he said.

OK, other cities have turned certain districts into a no-motor-vehicles area on weekend days and some people seemed to like it. Even Carytown gets closed to motor traffic on special occasions, such as the Watermelon Festival. But I can’t say that I’ve heard of banning bicycles before. Maybe I need to get around more.

If Goldman wanted to keep motor vehicles out of Carytown on Sundays, say from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. -- strictly as an experiment -- for a few months and study the way it works out, then I’d be in favor of such a test. It would be a reasonable step that would cost little, and if folks didn’t like it then it wouldn’t take much to undo it.

But banning bicycles is silly. What needs to be done in Carytown, to do with bikes, is to enforce the law that forbids riding them on the sidewalk. Of course, the problem with that is the cops on patrol on bikes in Carytown routinely break that law, themselves.

Moreover, going to the expense of implementing Goldman's radical no wheels in Carytown plan, without the slightest idea of how well it would work, is crazy. Goldman’s idea amounts to making Carytown into an urban shopping mall of a sort. It reminds me of the blue-sky talk about the Sixth Street Marketplace ... before it opened. Uh, oh!

Perhaps there are some things the City of Richmond could to do to help Carytown, but Goldman’s idea to ban wheels is not one of them. The merchants of Carytown should do everything they can to reject it. Their thriving retail area isn’t broken and it doesn’t need to be fixed.

Carytown was not created by a government program. The merchants, themselves, did it with little or no help form the City of Richmond. The main mover for that early-’80s transformation was local coffee queen Tammy Rostov's father, Jay Rostov, who then operated Carytown Coffee & Tea.

Richmond has lots of problems that do need fixing. Carytown isn’t one of them.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Goldman is providing some fresh ideas, which is more than I can say for other candidates. But even he agrees the Carytown notion needs more study.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous,

Fresh ideas are fine, but I'm more interested in good ideas. This one seems to be designed to create a buzz that will boost Goldman's name recognition, rather than a solution to a problem.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I actually LOVE the idea of making carytown a pedestrian mall...but, after much study...still, I geneally like the idea...kudos...

HEK said...

You just wait. Soon as the Downtown Expressway tolls jump this fall, traffic by those commuters will treble, as they seek to stick it to The Man by burning yet more fuel in bumper-to-bumper-stoplight-stoplight traffic through Carytown.

They don't reach their destination any quicker. The great compulsion to avoid yet another nickel-and-dime cost in an inflationary world where everything is getting more expensive and fast, is perhaps understandable. The presence of more cars clogging the two lanes of Cary Street traffic, however, isn't any good for anybody. And it's not going to help the merchants of Carytown -- where, by the way, there are some 20 vacant storefronts or commercial spaces within a mile stretch.

Jake Crocker said...

Carytown is PERFECT! Don't mess with one of the things we have right Goldman when there are so many other things we have wrong. Only thing I would suggest with Carytown is add another level or two to the parking decks and keep the crazy people from the home behind the shops from bothering the customers.

Don said...

And how do we do that, Jake? Ship the "crazy people" off to Henrico County (now where have I heard that one before)??

You are right that Carytown is something that we've done right - unlike our woeful and wasteful downtown plans. Because of that, I'm not sure how much I like this idea, but I do hope people study the raging success of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall before they completely dismiss it.