A better city

Published 10:22 am Thursday, February 22, 2007

By Staff
Speakers at the meeting conducted by the Washington Planning Board to receive input on what the city should do with the former Evans Seafood property should be proud of the way they conducted themselves.
There is no doubt that emotions run high when it comes to what should be done with the property, which is about a half an acre in size, and the adjacent four acres or so of open space. Those emotions were held in check Monday. In a situation where speakers could have gotten angry with one another, speakers made their cases and remained civil when other speakers espousing different views spoke.
It was uplifting to see differing factions make their arguments without losing their tempers, calling opponents nasty names or resulting to the trading of insults.
It was pleasing to hear speakers present points of views that had been carefully thought out.
Take Mary Alsentzer, executive director of the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, for example. PTRF wants the former Evans Seafood property and adjacent four acres to remain as open space.
That’s a point to consider when trying to determine what to do with the property. It’s a point that shows PTRF research is carefully studying the issue.
Joey Toler, interim director of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, presented DWOW’s stance on the property. A DWOW resolution calling for commercial development of the former Evans Seafood property characterizes that property, the former Maola property and the former McQuay property as a “critical super block.” That “super block” is in accordance with the downtown revitalization strategy outlined in the W.K. Dickson plan, which has been selected to guide redevelopment of the city’s central business district.
DWOW is right. That “super block,” if developed for commercial use, could provide a much-needed economic boost for the city. That’s a logical way to view the situation.
The Beaufort County Economic Development Commission presented a proposal the city, which owns the former Evans Seafood property, should consider if it sells the property. The EDC strongly encourages the city to implement a policy of including “recapture” clauses in any real-estate transactions it makes.
That’s a well-thought-out proposal. It makes sense. It would keep property from becoming “stagnant.” It would make a developer build a project instead of talk about building a project.
The differing views on what to do with the former Evans Seafood property are good to hear. They show people are thinking, and caring, about what happens in the city.
Win, lose or draw, participants in the public-input process should be commended for offering suggestions. They’re taking their citizenship responsibilities seriously.
That makes for a better city.