Brian Moore et al: I am writing to voice my frustration and anger over the continued closing of the street’s west end. I believe that my comments reflect the feelings of all the Bank Street Merchants. We have never seen anything from any city official or engineer stating why the street needed to be closed completely, […]
Brian Moore et al:
I am writing to voice my frustration and anger over the continued closing of the street’s west end. I believe that my comments reflect the feelings of all the Bank Street Merchants.
We have never seen anything from any city official or engineer stating why the street needed to be closed completely, or for so long. We have, in fact, attempted to do business in an informational vacuum—with no information of any kind from anyone.
Despite signs set up for a completely ineffective detour, the street continues to remain closed, with no indication of how long it will remain so. The businesses on Bank Street, including our own, have endured this intolerable situation for more than five weeks. As a result, businesses have suffered dramatically, all because selfish and negligent owners did not maintain their structure adequately. Their personal interests have, to date, taken precedent over the concerns of all the businesses, and shoppers alike.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that during this long ordeal, not one city official, has had the decency to even ask us how we were faring during this hardship. (Only Councilman Pritchett and Brian Moore have ever even acknowledged our existence as a business, after three years in Old Town). No one from the City ever sent an email, or visited us, or contacted us in any way to let any of us know that the street would be closed in the first place.
This, we feel, is symptomatic of the City’s longstanding attitude toward new business and individual entrepreneurs. We have never seen one shred of evidence that positive growth, or private enterprise is encouraged, or even desired by the City of Petersburg. As any new business owner will attest, quite the contrary becomes evident, as one has to jump through hoops and maneuver through an antiquated bureaucratic maze in order to get any new business up and running.
My personal dream, of re-establishing Hiram Haines Coffee House on Bank Street has been highly publicized in both the regional and local press. (See Richmond magazine, Hiram Haines Coffee House on Bank Street.) However, having lived in Petersburg for six years, and attempted to do business here for three, I have begun to think that this dream should remain deferred. Further investment in Petersburg would seem, at the moment, to be a bad idea.
A common conclusion, voiced more than once at neighborhood meetings is that “Petersburg’s primary business is poverty.” An influx of educated, worldly outsiders, some suggest, would only upset the established government’s role—to administer state and federal funds and further perpetrate the city’s longstanding culture of complacency and dependency.
If this is indeed true, the powers that be will be delighted when every newcomer with a dream simply packs up and leaves. If it isn’t, the city needs to show at least a minimal amount of interest in those who, with their own money and initiative, are trying to lift Petersburg up from the level to which it has so sadly descended.
Try welcoming new business owners with as little as a token visit. Enforce existing laws, like the two-hour parking limits and the ban on sandwich boards. Do something about vagrants and panhandlers, and envision Old Town as a shopping mecca, not a dumping ground for outpatients and social services. Revoke grandfathering, which allows ramshackle eyesores to exist side by side with expensive ARB-required façade restorations. These are just some of things within your power to do. But the easiest of all, perhaps the most meaningful of all, would be to reopen Bank Street NOW. This would at least be some indicator that you have listened to the people you are supposed to represent.
Rivers Edge Interiors
12 West Bank St.