WEEKENDER COLUMN: Purposeless, needless and doomed to fail
I came to live in Northeast Pa in the fall of 1980. So pretty quickly here, it will be 31 years that I have called this place my home. Itâ€™s been a good home but it often makes me very confused.
I came to town to put WKRZ on the air. We knew very little about the area but I had some time before we went on the air to explore a bit.
When I was first here downtown Wilkes-Barre was a lively vibrant place. It had these kind of cool red canopies. Boscovâ€™s was a newish seeming store, with bright displays and it was clean. The hotel Sterling was open and we even looked at it quite seriously as a place to build our new offices. The center of town had little restaurants, a music store and lots of shops. The square had its share of creepy crawlies but it had the fountain, and it worked.
The Station (Market Street Square, later, later still, a revolving, revolting sting of names) was just opened and it was a jewel indeed. Fine dining in unique train cars, great acts in the nightclub (I saw Joe Jackson there among many many others) and was a thriving business.
When did it all go to hell? When exactly did the hotel Sterling become less a place to stay and more a place that we fear to drive by, because it might topple and fall on our heads? When did the Station become a financial disaster needing millions of dollars to save it? Who decided that we needed the train station more than a hotel? When did the mechanics of a working fountain become too hard for us? It didnâ€™t happen overnight. It happened in plain sight, but apparently not plain enough. Just a slow slide into oblivion. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
Talk is that the Station complex will become a â€œvisitors centerâ€ similar to the one up at Montage. What a plan that is. Ever visit the center up north? I was there a few times. You could shoot cannons at either end and not hurt a soul. Just what we need, another empty building to decay in the downtown area. Purposeless, needless and doomed to fail. Sounds like a motto to me.
So what solutions do I offer, smart guy? None. I am after all just a guy with a laptop and an axe to grind. Smarter minds than mine will decide the fate of old hotels and derelict train stations. Politicians and officials will fix it all.
Just like before.
I wish they would put the red canopies back. I really liked them.
Reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org Even more rants are on his blog, updated every day that ends in “y” at jamesrising.com