A frequent complaint from the “movers and shakers” in the Halifax area – often repeated by the Daytona Beach News-Journal – concerns the prevailing sense of base pessimism and cynical distrust that seems to possess the local narrative like a diseased dybbuk.
Do alternative opinion outlets like Barker’s View contribute to that? Guilty as charged.
Let’s face it, blowing smoke up the collective ass of our local elected and appointed “leadership” is not my bailiwick – and I’ve seen far too much with these jaundiced old eyes to buy into the Regional Chamber of Commerce’s syrupy “everything is beautiful, in its own way” prattle.
In a recent op/ed, the News-Journal finally recognized that the long-suffering residents of Volusia County come by their sense of skepticism honestly.
Unfortunately, the newspaper then attempted – once again – to pitifully fan some fleeting spark of optimism over a plan by a mysterious Russian developer, Protogroup, to construct two 300-foot (plus) convention hotel and condominium towers, cleverly named, well, “The Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums.”
Happy Days are here again. Again.
Not since those heady days before the Hard Rock deal collapsed like a cheap beach chair – and the resulting blame game by the Canadian developer – have I heard such jubilance and positivity over a speculative development.
Not since the intoxicating reign of Bray & Gillespie – or the Ocean Waters Development saga, the slow downward spiral of the promised Main Street upgrades, the expensive (and now shelved) “E-Zone Master Plan,” etc., etc. – have I heard such rich enthusiasm swirling in the salty air of Daytona’s Beachside.
The powers-that-be are still giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to their horribly failed notion that a “Grand Hotel” can be the panacea for all our ills – the mythical regenerative Phoenix rising from the sandy ashes to magically heal the decades of blight and inattention that have left our core tourist area a virtual wasteland.
Stop shitting on our dreams, Barker. You Debbie Downer.
After all, the Russkie’s put up a parking garage – what more assurance do you need?
At the risk of sounding like a typical east Volusia cynic: Now that we’re back at square one, it appears to me our politicians are reluctant to give up on the “cure all hotel” strategy because they know speculative property developers will throw money in all the right places, and pockets, while actual revitalization efforts require an investment of blood, sweat, and tears – hard work – and a commitment to the important ideals of perseverance, vision and collaboration.
I’ll be damned if I can figure out why ostensibly smart public officials keep dragging the lifeless corpse of this failed approach around like some weird scene from Weekend at Bernies.
It just doesn’t work here.
Why is it so difficult to understand that, generally speaking, most people don’t want to vacation, or invest, in a blighted shithole? (It really is that simple.)
What about code enforcement, reinvestment, strategic demolition and remediation, “cleaning and greening,” subsidies for citizens and organizations with a proven track record of revitalization, changing the current culture that permits vacant and neglected properties, and embracing practical efforts to stop the adverse effect of blight on the health, welfare and economy of the beachside?
Why don’t our elected representatives get it?
In a recent letter to the editor published in the News-Journal, a member of the Daytona Beach-based grassroots initiative Citizens 4 Responsible Development, wrote:
“…I and a few others took a walk down Main Street, two blocks from the Ocean Center and the Hilton. Here’s what we saw: Temporary banners tacked up over many establishments. Lighted neon signs saying “Open” in the windows of locked-up stores. A parking lot littered with broken bottles. Dirty store fronts. Lovely planters filled with weeds. Store windows plastered with over-sized signs. Harley logos on the asphalt street. Crumbling stucco facades. A discarded organ sitting under a canopy. A glass case displaying event information from 2015…”
Our representatives could learn something from that.
Sadly, in their recent editorial, the News-Journal made the analogy:
“For more than a century, “Wait til next year!” became the annual rallying cry for Chicago Cubs fans after season after season of failure. Just as the Cubs finally broke through with a World Series title in 2016, Daytona Beach appears to be on a winning streak with the opening of the Tanger Outlets mall, the first phase of One Daytona taking shape, (yawn) and now the Protogroup project about to launch. It’s enough to make optimism fashionable again.”
There is another old rallying cry: “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”
It’s high-time our elected officials stop this exercise in repetitive denial and begin the difficult process of building a strong foundation for real, long-term, economic redevelopment in the Halifax area.
(Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment Corporation)