While waiting in line one evening at the Booker T. Theater for the Downtown Live! performance, which was moved inside because of the weather, I thought back to some of the many recent events that have taken place downtown.
We were forced to wait in line because they had reached capacity and would only let someone in when someone else left. I faced a similar situation at a packed Prime Smokehouse for their Mother’s Day brunch. Early in May, 500 runners and supporters gathered in front of the Imperial Centre for the Rocky Mount Rocket Mile run.
Lawn chair theater began recently so there were scores of parents and children sitting on blankets and chairs watching movies in the dark in downtown Rocky Mount for about the fourth or fifth year.
Yes, people will and are coming to downtown Rocky Mount, which is why I think this is the right time to continue to explore the options for constructing the proposed event center. When I look at the Douglas Block project, the sports complex and the Imperial Centre, I have to say that this administration has a track record. They also have a positive feasibility report. They have a number of finance options presented by their finance team. The city’s financial adviser stated that the city was in a good position to take on the financing debt and still continue with existing tax-supported debt. Our crime rate is the lowest since the 1980s, according to our police chief.
The time to act is now. We cannot wait another 40 to 70 years. One reason to move now is noted in the feasibility report that “at least one other city also considered such a facility in the past, but was unable to build because of funding.” What a shame it would be for some other city to sneak in and capitalize on Rocky Mount’s efforts. I believe if done properly, this will be a real positive game-changer for the city. I hope that this administration will continue with caution to explore all the options available to proceed with this project, and I hope all the pieces fall into place to make the event center a reality. I would love to be in line for the opening event.