Business interchange kills downtown
October 3, 2008 · Updated 1:42 AM
The South Fork business interchange has been operating in
North Bend for a few years now, and it's time to assess the effects of its presence.
The presence of these new complexes is invariably killing the old downtown
as a legitimate center of commerce. I have seen this happen repeatedly in
communities where I have lived. The old downtown is forced into marginal
tourist-oriented knick-knack shops, antique stores, and trendy
eatery-type businesses using the concept of "quaint" to try to stay afloat. The
Heritage Corridor is to be strategically placed to attract travelers to the
"traditional downtown business
district." This effort will be futile. The
Heritage Corridor is an attempt to correct a mistake we made, and that we
repeatedly make. Let us face the facts.
The new complex becomes downtown every place it is built, and
will here too. Who bothers with old downtown Redmond, Bellevue, Auburn
or Issaquah anymore? We all flock to the "new and improved" downtown.
There we can go to garish fast food franchises that promise us yummy food
dripping with melting cheese. There we can go to brightly lit fueling stations with
their requisite food marts and "delis"
where we can fill up our cars with gas augmented by the latest marketing
device (remember platformate?) and fill up our bodies with extreme, intense
or mega salty snacks and buckets o' soda. There we can negotiate the
parking prairie to shop one-purpose stores catering to our baser wants, such as
Big Dog clothes, Perfumania or luggage land. It sounds like a paradise.
Too bad the fast food joint only delivers a smashed burger slapped
together by an apathetic teen. It doesn't taste as good as the ones at Scott's,
but you can bet your cholesterol it tastes the same in North Bend as in
Northern Ireland. Too bad the clerk at the fueling station has no idea what
type of transmission fluid my car uses, or that the collectible Star Wars cup
full of soda will end up blowing around the side of the road over by the
Tollgate Farm. Too bad we spent a week's pay on name-brand goods at
inflated prices when we thought we were getting a deal at the factory outlet
store, and that the profit gets siphoned off to Chicago. Too bad we have to look
at the chain link fence surrounding the weed and litter infested post
construction hardpan adjacent to the Blockbuster franchise. It looked better as
a field. What are they trying to keep out, or in?
OK, I'm going to say it. The South Fork business interchange is ugly.
The South Fork business interchange degrades our community. The South
Fork business interchange is a monument to our greed and our willingness to
sell our quality of life to fuel that greed. It should never have been built, and
it should be removed.
The traffic there is as bad as it is at Bendigo and North Bend
Boulevard. It took decades for the congestion to happen at the older intersection, a
few years for it to do the same at the interchange. What did the planners get
paid for? Nothing! Why are we considering building a hotel there? It will
just add to the ugliness. We do not need the meeting space that badly,
except for the Chamber of Commerce to meet to devise ways to combat the
deterioration of the old downtown and for the city staff to hold hearings for us to
suggest ways to beautify the community. What are we thinking?
This letter will be dismissed by some as an angry diatribe
submitted by one of the local cranks. It is, and this fact does not undermine the
legitimacy of the issues considered. We better pay attention to what we are
doing before we find ourselves living in between a personal watercraft store
and a frozen yogurt shop.