Post: Is it Old Town Scottsdale or just an old town?

As a new resident of the city I thought the ability to walk to dining, shopping and for exercise would be an excellent change from being completely car-dependent in Paradise Valley.

Richard Post

I could walk though pleasant surroundings to Nordstrom’s in seven minutes have a coffee at Schmooze in five or stroll to dinner at Virtu in 10. Old Town is hip, vibrant and where everything is happening in Scottsdale.

Walking through Old Town this past weekend was an eye opener and a less than pleasant one. Saba’s, Bishkoff’s and store after store are closed, vacant buildings such as the old Pepin Restaurant now stand vacant overlooking Civic Center Plaza.

Tired public spaces surround the Center for the Arts complex while work proceeds at a snails pace on reconstructing the Plaza bridge. Graffiti is appearing near the Clayton building and the stores and shops lining the area are worn out, dirty, and show little pride in being a part of a supposedly tourist welcoming venue.

Does anybody from the City Council ever walk around Old Town? Do you see what is obvious to anyone looking at the streets and shops…the place needs some TLC. Instead, what you see is the face of neglect, deferred maintenance and lack of civic pride.

Sure there is discussion of a revival of Fifth Avenue. It is sorely needed but that is just one dimension of the problem of Old Town.

All the light pole banners flapping in the breeze about Old Town is the proverbial ‘lipstick on a pig.’ Talking a good story is not the same as having a good story. Old Town’s history is fine, it’s the present that is a problem.

Sure there are lots of bars, restaurants and individual businesspeople who are trying to cater to tourists but where is the municipal vision, leadership and drive to get things done for the future?

Maybe the process followed to design a new city logo was instructive after all.

“We don’t know where we are going, why we are doing it and what we should do when we get there” is the philosophy city leadership seems to be following.

“We don’t know what we want old town to be so let’s do nothing and see what happens. If we don’t like it next year we’ll change it again.”

In the meanwhile, visitors will continue to come and spend money…until they don’t.

It appears that those of you on the council think that people moving into all the new condos, apartments and homes will stay because they are stuck and can’t easily walk away. Better yet, you don’t have to do anything, make any decisions or spend any money to build something worthwhile.

Instead it’s more of the same…the old, tired, run down and dirty is now OK.

It’s quaint, cute and Old West so what the heck, its’ good enough for tourists, they’ll spend their money regardless.

Town residents, well, they’re just stuck.

Hey, City Council, walk around, look at Old Town with fresh eyes. It this what you think is OK?

Try cleaning up a small part of Old Town like the Civic Center Plaza… get just the sidewalks power-washed… then the grime and “down and the heels look” in the rest of Old Town will be more visible.

Editor’s Note: Richard Post is a resident of Scottsdale.

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