Could Operation Foresight occur now, amid council fights and tax battles?
Many of my early kid clothes came from the old Jack and Jill Shop on Main Street. Later styles were from Gordon’s and Manuel’s and J.C. Penney’s. My traditional graduation suit came from Brownson’s.
My evolving shoe sizes were measured in that curious old contraption in Benge’s while it was still in regular use. Those happy feet danced the night away during junior high school gatherings at the old La Court Hotel, predecessor to the Two Rivers Convention Center, where I now lunch with fellow Grand Junction Lions most Tuesdays.
I never dreamed I’d later own the radio station that was among the first to intrigue me with magic of radio when I peered through a plate glass window in the 600 block of Main Street.
The paperboy who eased his bike off the high curbs downtown, en route to drooling over new models at Ed Eisenhower Motors, Harris Motors, Central Chevrolet and Western Slope Auto, later watched his future wife being chauffeured down Main Street as the Grand Junction High School homecoming queen.
The first movie I remember seeing was “The Robe” at what’s now the Avalon. My first clumsy “date” was to a matinee at the Mesa Theater. And I watched Main Street being dismantled and reborn during Operation Foresight.
I recalled those memorable times, and more, last weekend while reading Greg Ruland’s excellent recap of the Foresight project, also remembering personal interactions with most of the folks responsible for that transformation. And I wondered: Could we get this done today?
I’d like to think so.
Now, as then, there’s an impressive cadre of downtown business people. Bruce Benge carries on his family’s tradition and former mayor Ron Maupin staked out his downtown claim next door at Haggle of Vendors a long time ago.
Rock Cesario bet his family’s future on a Main Street business that’s occupied three different storefronts during Triple Play Records’ nearly 25 years. Brad and Becky Brehmer have also done that.
The Reimer brothers host thousands of visitors in their hotels each year. Kevin Brooks will soon bring Big O to downtown, resuming a retail tire tradition at Third and Rood. Gregg Palmer epitomizes the longtime practice of business leaders being involved in community affairs from his perch at Brown’s Shoe Fit Company.
Seth Anderson of Loki Outerwear is pushing more visibility for Colorado Avenue businesses while opening his new location a block off Main Street.
Longtime locals like Shari Raso and Karen and Buzz Moore continue their contributions as downtown business and property owners.
But maybe not.
This isn’t Dale Hollingsworth’s Chamber of Commerce anymore, the one willing to cooperatively ride shotgun rather than demanding to control the reins. Or Ray Meacham’s City Council, focused on what can be accomplished rather than compromising projects with proposed TABOR overrides and excesses like back-in parking.
City Manager Rich Englehart’s history in Delta shows he might have a Joe Lacy streak in him, but who on the city staff wants to raise a head out of the foxhole while combative council members fire shots from opposing trenches and pride themselves on hanging the hides of former city managers on the wall?
Imagine the pained bleats from those still arguing over the Avalon renovation. A Foresight-like change might prompt a deafening outcry from those still trying to figure out simple roundabouts. What might we hear from those bitter ladies in red dresses focused on the evils of government involvement or those folks who’d apparently rather see White Hall remain a burned- out hulk?
Are we the community that voted 3-1 for record-breaking long-term debt to build the Riverside Parkway or the one still arguing over the now-completed public safety complex? Are there business leaders willing to put skin in the game, like those downtown or out on Horizon Drive, or do we, like some on North Avenue, look to have things done for us?
Are we a community of “aginners” or can we still share a vision for a better collective future rather than one rooted in individual self interest?
Could we, would we, do Operation Foresight again?