Business interchange kills downtown

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.

Dave Eiffert


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