“Was that your op-ed in the Herald in March?” I am trying to sell a pair of skis on Facebook Marketplace. This person at first wanted us to meet so he could check out the condition.
Then he messaged me related to my commentary. People care about the downtown and its descent. I am constantly encouraged to “keep it up,” but I’ve been a bit lazy recently. There’s been a few letters and articles recently that have got my blood starting to boil again. You may think some of my commentaries are harsh, but one writer recently destroyed any notion that the city has anything at all going for it. People are noticing.
There was also an article about Rutland receiving its share of the ARPA funds, over $4 million. The mayor was interviewed about what he would like to do with the funds. Do you think he even mentioned the downtown? No. Let me remind you that, when he was running for his latest term, he said filling up the empty store fronts was a major item on his mind. Have you heard from him about the state of the downtown since? Again, no way. A few days later, a letter from Board of Alderman member Whitcomb said the one item he thought was missing from the list was a project aimed at helping bring more people to the city. Seems to me that he is among only two progressive board members we ever hear anything from.
At pickleball the other day, one of the players told me he heard three new businesses are coming to Center Street. I think that’s great. But then I asked him what the people in charge of the downtown were going to do to bring people downtown to visit these new places. Then he started on something I have refrained from doing: Calling out the people in charge of making the downtown vibrant for the salaries they are making and doing nothing.
Think about it, during July and August, when the tourists are around, there weren’t events downtown to get people interested in visiting. Other cities and towns had sidewalk sales, food truck days. Bennington even moved the annual Garlic Festival downtown this year to help the businesses.
If I had to use a color to describe the downtown, it would be gray.
Larry Abelman lives in Shrewsbury.