I Don't Support Dumb Things...

I'll be the first to admit that Jeanne and I live in a bit of a PJP bubble.  I spend 90% of my time split between PJP Buttonwood and my house (with an additional 4% dedicated to nonsensical Hyvee runs and the remaining 6% taking in the pick up and drop off lines at Gentry Middle School and Rock Bridge High School, which is a soul sucking experience). So earlier this week, I was a bit out of routine when I went downtown for a meeting.  I was going to a building on 8th street and started to take some shortcuts here and there until I noticed that the city is basically digging up the entire downtown and has closed 6th street from Elm to Broadway.  And then I remembered reading an article in The Missourian about the road closure impact on Coley's Bistro...wherein the entrance to their restaurant is basically closed off due to construction.  It started in late August and hopefully ends by November 10th.  I peripherally knew that, but I didn't know that the street has LITERALLY been dug up in front of the restaurant.  And in front of the FedEx store and in front of goodness knows what else because you can't see over the piles of destroyed street concrete.

As a business owner, a chill runs up my spine to think of Buttonwood Drive being completely demolished for 12 weeks.  And as anyone trying to run a small business knows, 12 weeks can mean everything in your ability to survive.  Goodness, even a bad four weeks can make or break you because entrepreneurship is a tenable game that we play.

And here is the very worst part, if you can imagine...the businesses impacted by the construction weren't even notified of the project.  One day, some backhoes just showed up and started digging.  WAIT.  WHAT???  Are you even kidding me with that?

The city is apparently doing an extensive sewer replacement project.  And I'm sure it is needed and justified, but no notice to the impacted area IS COMPLETELY INSANE.  As anyone who has ever applied for a building permit knows, the process is lengthy and expensive and onerous at best.  (I actually cried once over a disagreement with the city planning office.  It wasn't my best moment.)  And while I could say a lot about overzealous and restrictively expensive regulations in this city, that is a topic for another day.  The point here is that the impacted businesses were entitled to due process, the nice age old notion of notice and opportunity to be heard.  Is that not a thing now in this town?  How does it work that residents are held to a higher standard than the city itself?  Can you even imagine the cease and desist order and the fine issued if you decided to just start building a house on a vacant lot you've purchased without telling the city and spending a few thousand dollars on permits?  (And the permitting process exists for the safety of building occupants...I don't dispute it.  But I do think that it is an imbalance of power and expectation when you don't hold the city to the same standards as the residents.)

Here's an idea...notify the residents and businesses impacted by the closure of the project and the reason for the project.  Provide a timeline. Hold a meeting and discuss it like a group of reasonable adults.  Take feedback, like "oh, a closure of this magnitude during the busy fall season of football Saturdays and such will make it impossible for my business to succeed".  Consider doing the projects in phases.  Consider something, but don't roll in with a load of construction machinery and put people's businesses in jeopardy without notice.

If I ever run for city council, it will be on the platform of "I don't support dumb things".  That would make a great shirt.