I read the articles on Cottonwood Park and Market where much concern was raised about people who hang out and sleep there.
My concern is about the demolition of the market buildings and I don’t believe knocking them down is going to solve any social problems at this point. Plus, the buildings are currently needed for the market. I’ve talked to the city staff about it and there is no definite plan in place to rebuild anything, although the EcoSociety is hoping to find some funding to put up some kind of temporary cover for next year.
The existing buildings need a new roof but the structure is solid. I am quite sure it provides excellent shelter from wind, rain and sun and the stage works great to keep musicians and equipment off the ground and dry.
I have heard suggestions that next year the market vendors will bring their own canopies and tables like at the downtown market. The problem with that is Cottonwood Market has a much longer season and gets some nasty extreme weather, especially when the waterfall is in flood in May and June. I think there is no doubt that losing the buildings will take away from Cottonwood Market, and many vendors agree. If we look through a lens of sustainability and global warming, I’d say this is a step backwards. Some vendors do not have vehicles, canopies or tables, and will not be able to vend at the market anymore.
Secure storage of tables, sound system and maintenance tools is also an issue. There will be no place to securely store operational equipment if the buildings are torn down without a plan to build more before next May.
The biggest problem I’m having is there has been no public input. In November, apparently there will be a public planning process for the area of Railtown after the demolition. So what’s the rush to get rid of the buildings? Let’s do the public planning with the buildings standing. If the problem is the park people, then maybe we need to address that concern specifically. This demolition reminds me of when the city banned dogs on Baker St. to “clean up the street.”
Maybe we need to provide some youth workers who can connect with the park people and leave the toilets unlocked so they have a bathroom. I’ve heard the plan is to make life uncomfortable for those living in the park and drive them out, but I don’t know if that’s true.
However, I have just learned that there is a new initiative to deal with street people that has support from all agencies so we could defer the demolition and give this approach a try. The final coup de grâce, I understand, is they plan on taking the whole thing to the dump.
Come on out if you have a concern about the demolition of the market buildings on Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at the committee of the whole at City Hall and or send an email. The city has an email contact for mayor and council on their website in the staff directory on the website.
John Alton, Nelson