Downtown Rocky Mount. It is not the retail mecca or banking center that it was for more than 100 years, but it is a place with a lot of potential.
I would like to see that potential realized. Part of the argument for the construction of an event center downtown is that it will revive the area.
With all due respect to those who espouse that theory, the “build it and they will come” strategy only works in the movies. Before we build it, let’s remove some of the obstacles that will make the success of an event center difﬁcult.
I respectfully suggest the City Council consider these steps ﬁrst:
- Find a way to encourage the sale and rehabilitation of the many empty buildings. Old downtowns ﬁnd new life with new owners. The Bel-Air Artisan Center is a great example.
- Eliminate the one-way streets. They used to be necessary. They really aren’t anymore.
- Make it so people feel safe to be downtown, any hour, any day of the week.
- Embrace the railroad. It’s not going anywhere. Let’s make lemonade.
- Fix the tax rate. Taxes are higher in Edgecombe County, discouraging investment on that side of town.
- Make downtown interesting to local people again. Visitors won’t come if locals won’t.
- Make downtown interesting to visitors – the Train Station, the Imperial Centre, the Children’s Museum, the Playhouse, the Booker T. Washington Center ...these are all wonderful resources and great facilities that are grossly underutilized. They could and should be attracting people from within and to our city.
These are just a few ideas. There are dozens more that won’t cost millions. Let’s get Rocky Mount back on track, then once they come, let’s build it!