So much for public input

When it comes to participating in citizen initiative committees, The War Memorial Stadium Task Force (Wharton) may have been my swan’s song.  If the City Council’s preferred proposal for WMS renovation stands, I suspect others on that committee may have similar resolves including ignored “stake-holder” representatives from Greensboro College, NC A&T, the VFW, and city staff.  In the future, when I want to spend a lot of time doing something only to get ignored, I’ll do what the rest of Greensboro’s population does – I’ll take a trip to the Home Depot.

Except for Marc Bush, the Greensboro Sports Commission president, no one on the WMS Task Force recommended the City Council’s choice of the 1500 seat option for the renovation of the old stadium.  The group overwhelmingly supported the 2500 seat option.WMS Seating Options.JPGWMS Option 3.JPG

Since we were charged with transforming WMS into the ”state’s premier venue for amatuer baseball”, Option 1 was never given any serious consideration because of one main reason: it was the worst possible configuration for watching a baseball game. 

The only reason we sent that pitiful little option to the Council for consideration is because we were told we had to by assistant city manager Bob Morgan.  He stated that the architects were contracted to produce three scenarios. 

We begrudgingly agreed to offer it, but we never – ever – dreamed it would be chosen.  As a matter of fact, we voted against it.WMS Option 1

Just look at it.  Under the council’s on-the-cheap selection, the only seating available within the “state’s premier amatuer baseball venue” would be down first base and way away from the playing field. (The area depicted in pink would be the only availalbe seating – the red area shown next to it will be demolished and rebuilt as a non-seating structure.  The light purple area is to be “mothballed” and cordoned off to the public under the Council’s chosen option.)

Adding insult to the injury Option 1 will do to WMS, the council has so far rejected the task force’s recommended site improvements, many of which were developed through a separate WMS committee. (With which I also apparently wasted a bunch of time.)  Mayor Holliday says he “hopes” those improvements can “eventually” come from the regular budget in the future – but I’m not holding my breath.  By their votes to offer such an inadequate renovation package to the voters, our council is demonstrating how much they care about what happens to “the state’s premier amatuer baseball venue”.  And this is coming from many of the same members who expressed a high level of support for doing WMS right in the wake of the recent baseball stadium debates.

In my estimation, the November bond offering is WMS’ best hope of ever getting the money it needs to be done correctly.  Even though public interest in the place is fading fast, a large portion of the electorate still has a soft place for the many hours they spent there while attending minor-league games.  That sentiment won’t last if Option 1 is chosen as the renovation plan.  Because no one will want to watch a game there with such a disfunctional seating pattern.

I think I’ll go to The Home Depot for a while until I cool off and try to decide what my next N&R column will be about.

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12 Comments

  1. Wayne R.
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Well, David, what did you expect?

    It’ll never happen.

  2. Posted April 27, 2006 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Hey David,

    If you are really surprised, you are more gullible than I thought. Wise up and keep fighting the good fight.

  3. Anon
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Would you care to expand on the VFW’s “Stake-Holder” posistion in the process now that they have exchanged their Post location on Homeland with the city for their new home on Eugene.

  4. Mark
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I normally go to the Home Depot after watching the School Board ignore public input.

  5. Posted April 27, 2006 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys, you should try dressing in drag. Everytime I walk into home depot I’ve got a dozen really dirty-old-man contractors who are at least 40 years older than me drooling over me…. Its lots of fun to be followed by all those eyes that are wondering if you truly are competant enough to run power tools or if you’re just there to pick up sweaty rednecks…

  6. Posted April 27, 2006 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Diane… thanks alot… I don’t consider myself as being overly gullible but I am a trusting soul.

    ***********

    Anon… It is called War Memorial Stadium… the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has a vested interest in memorials erected to dead soldiers from foreign wars. A representative from that organization was invited to the table by the Mayor and attended nearly all of the umpteen meetings held over this matter.

    The location of their Post is irrelevant to their “stake holder” status … or at least it seems to be to them.

  7. RH
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Well, this ought to hobble it somewhat. I fear we’re getting set up with the same scene as happened from the last bond referendum for WMS: The voters will vote against it because they don’t like the plan and the Mayor, City and willing accomplices in the media (to borrow an appropriate term) will interpret it as “the public does not support ANY renovation of WMS”. They will never accept the fact that just because someone doesn’t like THEIR PLAN, doesn’t mean they don’t support the goal or the preservation of WMS as an attractive facility sought-after as a premier venue to many events long into the future. Sad.

  8. Ann Stringfield
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Oh David, and friends supportive of War Memorial Stadium’s great plans … I too am once again sorely
    disappointed with Greensboro leadership’s decision-making, especially on historic preservation issues.
    I am repeatedly, naively optimistic and repeatedly disappointed. But naive optimism, even with
    disappointment, is not a bad way to live life.

    You’ve recently read that Melvin and Moore and city leaders have conveniently forgotten ALL
    pre-stadium-referendum promises to “be a good neighbor” to Fisher Park re: noise and traffic.
    Rather than simply turning down the new stadium’s amplified sound system a notch or two, no hardship
    and no expense, they instead boast that the sound system is only used at a portion of it’s capacity
    (the old “you should be greatful … it could be worse” theme song) and that they themselves can’t hear
    the announcer a block from the stadium, and only count a handfull of cars entering/leaveing the stadium
    events via Eugene Street. Somebody’s deaf and somebody can’t count.

    This reflects a true measure of the men involved. Good news is, we’re not them.

    Thank you for all you’ve done, and continue to do, and your similarly naive, optimistic efforts.
    It is a measure of ourselves and our families, yourself and your family especially, that we expend
    energies toward higher goals for Greensboro through historic preservation. We could not sleep without trying.
    Yet we can sleep pretty well knowing we tried hard.

    Thanks for your reports on WMS. ann

  9. David Wharton
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    David,

    I share all your feelings. However, the Fat Lady has not yet sung.

    I’ll be making some calls to council members over the next couple of days. I’m not sure
    at this point that council members fully understand the deep crappiness of option #1 —
    or the goodness of options #2 & #3.

  10. Sandy Carmany
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    David,
    No need to phone me – I’m already on board. As I stated in my post earlier this week about the first draft of the referendum (http://sandycarmany.blogspot.com/2006/04/first-draft-of-bond-referendum.html), I supported Option #2 and continue to do so. My thinking is to add the additional million to the stadium question and to subtract a million or more from the Parks & Recreation question.

    I know you and others are deeply disappointed by the council’s PRELIMINARY decision. I (and the others) definitely a[[reciate the time and energy you devoted to this task, but in the end, I think economics over-ruled your recommendation.

  11. Sandy Carmany
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Ugh — pressed submit before I proofread my comment. That’s supposed to be “appreciate.”

  12. Posted April 29, 2006 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    David,
    I was at the city council briefing and heard the discussion about bond issues to be placed on the ballot. Sandy was on the right side of the WMS issue. Maybe others will be persuaded to keep their promises about maintaining this historic stadium. I think the actual phrase during the planning of the new stadium was “continue to maintain.”

    I have a few words to say about that. How can we continue to maintain something that we have not maintained, but have let slide into such disrepair that we are now told that it is only fit to be torn down?

    I am in favor of spending more money on maintenance of all city property in our regular budget. One of the reasons that the tax rate did not increase last year (an election year) is that the council decided to put off routine maintenance of many city-owned properties. Of course, the Coliseum got new carpeting and Bryan Park got money to do work around the greens, and Downtown Greensboro got money for whatever and city money was allocated to redecorate the area around the downtown park.

    Because of this lack of maintenance of property for several years, the council is now asking for capital improvement bonds to do what should have been done all along. I hear much talk about “taking care of what we have,” but little real effort to do it. One excuse is that the economy hasn’t been doing as well as was expected, so money wasn’t there to “take care of what we have.”

    Talk is cheap. Action isn’t. Taxpayers will pay one way or another. Council will decide what we will pay for and how it will be financed. And the beat goes on, and on, and on.