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Man on the Street

By SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

 

For the past nine weeks, we’ve gone out into the public and gotten your answers to a single question each time. For our tenth week, we’re taking a look back at what people had to say, and then we’d like to ask you another question.

Our first week’s question was, “What improvements, if any, would you like to see to downtown Pulaski?”

Answers ranged from “Something more for kids” to “We need some restaurants,” but almost everyone wanted to see more stores open downtown. Having something for children and teens to do was a recurring theme in answers to many of our questions.

Our second week’s question was, “Should the Pulaski city government impose mandatory improvements downtown?”

Out of seven respondents, one thought not, saying, “I think there’s over-governing as far as regulations,” but our other six that week gave an emphatic yes. One added a sentiment that popped up again and again in later columns, saying “It used to be a nice little booming town and it’s pretty much dead now.”

Our third week’s question, directed at downtown shop owners, was, “How would you feel if the town government imposed stricter regulations on how you must maintain your business as part of a downtown improvement plan?”

One business owner was against it, two were somewhat cautious, and four were enthusiastic, with one saying colorfully, “I would love to see that. The appearance of West Main Street is one of dilapidated approaching abandonment.”

Our fourth week’s question, directed at the Pulaski Town Council, was,  “What role do you see town legislation taking in helping to create a downtown that appeals to tourists and helps draw in new merchants?”

In this instance, we got a wide range of answers, from specific plans to general ideas for improvement. Two council members agreed that developing Route 99 to draw people off the interstate was a priority.

Our fifth week’s question was, “Would you like to see more stores in downtown Pulaski keep longer hours and be consistently open on weekends?”

Our answers were short and too the point, almost all starting with an emphatic “Yes.” One person added, “Most everything’s moved to the other side of town or Dublin.”

Our sixth week’s question, hearkening back to some of town council’s answers from our fourth question, asked, “Which do you think Pulaski needs to develop first: the downtown area so people will have a place to go, or route 99 so people will be drawn in off the interstate?”

Out of eight people, one said, “Actually I think it’s both. We need to draw people in, but why would you want to bring them in if there’s nothing to bring them to?” Everyone else wanted to see downtown improved first. Said one citizen, “Downtown, because we don’t have anything here to do. We have to go elsewhere to do things.”

Our seventh week’s question was, “Would you like to see public transportation options in Pulaski that run later and more often?”

Everyone agreed they’d like to see this happen, with one citizen adding the observation “That would be a good alternative to driving or taking a cab—it would cut down on DUIs.”

Our eighth week’s question was, “Would you like to see the downtown portion of Peak Creek become a recreational area for the public?”

One citizen thought Pulaski should focus on getting more stores downtown before doing anything recreational near the creek; another thought nothing should be done until the creek was cleaned of any possible toxins. Another citizen wanted it cleaned and stocked with fish; everyone else felt that the creek offered definite opportunities for recreation.

Last week our ninth question was, “What does your family do for local recreation in the summer and what would you like to see available in Pulaski?”

Answers varied; some people said hiking the trails, others expressed appreciation for Randolph Park but felt it was too far away from downtown. One respondent said, “A local public swimming pool would be nice. There’s kids that can’t go down to Randolph.”

Unfortunately our Man on the Street feature is lacking in one area; namely, we can only reach those people who are out and about in town. After some debate, we decided to remedy that.

So this week we want to really turn our feature over to the public: if you haven’t had a chance to appear in our Man on the Street feature, what question have we not asked that you’d like to see your fellow Pulaskians answer?

 

Please send us your idea for next week’s Man on the Street question at The Southwest Times, P.O. Box 391, Pulaski, VA 23401 or email it with the heading “Man on the Street Question” to  shannon@southwesttimes.com. Questions must be received by Wednesday, May 15.

 

Posted May 10, 2013

3 Responses to Man on the Street

  1. Sue Mason

    May 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

    We have such a great little town. The possibilities are nearly endless, but from what I can understand we seem to be in a catch 22. Businesses won’t come into downtown until there is a demand for the business, and there won’t be a demand for the business until the business is there. We could all help by supporting what we do have there now. Shop in our town as much as possible rather than going to the big “W”. Support our local small business people. When others see that we’re supporting what we have and that we’ve outgrown what we have, more business will want to be downtown.

  2. an outsider looking in

    May 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Pulaski Downtown: I remember drug stores, 5&10′s,clothing, everything that was there in the 50′s up into the early 70′s. What do I see now??
    A few antique stores, several of which just carry ‘junk’,(owners may take exception to this but that is ok) no insult intended. the Pawn shop is the only big thing in the area of the Courthouse. Talk of improving…there is nothing wrong with the way the buildings look, except they are empty! I have read of many proposals over the years and money spent studying this so called problem. If it were possible to make money by opening a store in this area, then the buildings would be full. In my visits to Pulaski, I see a new antique/collectible store open and then 6 months later it is closed up. Two store fronts below the theater are now vacant. So can somone tell me what ‘development’ the town can do to draw people to downtown, perhaps issue permits for a few bars, strip clubs, or even paint the street gold…I think all three of these might help. And Peak Creek for recreation…are they ‘crazy’! I estimate it is about 10 feet down to the water…build steps down so people can wade. Fish..for the most part Peak Creek barely flows unless you get heavy rains. It is a reality that the old downtown areas of most small towns are gone forever and will never return. Sorry to be so blunt but that is the way it is.

  3. Andrew Cocke

    May 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    This is a tricky subject. How do you respect property rights and yet provide an incentive for a blooming town? To bring the hammer down on building owners and create more red tape may just compound the problem. We must then ask our self, what separates a good town from a lousy one?

    Please hear me out, this actually makes sense in my head…

    The answer doesn’t come with increased taxes or regulations. You can’t twist someones arm and make them paint a building, or lease it out. They have to WANT to! So how is this done?

    Lets look at the church. The church runs by and large on donations. (the offering plate) There are some really nice well done churches out there that have nice buildings, fun activities for kids, and give back to the community. How can they do all of this on donations? Simply put, the people making the donations believe in the cause of the church. The want to see it succeed. This church, in a way is like a little community, just people don’t actually live there as they would in a real community.

    Pulaski’s problem is most people, at least those with the money don’t believe in the town. Most of her buildings have just been inherited down to owners who may not even know they are the owner. Simply put, as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Pulaski will never do well so long as her natives and residents continue to trash talk their town.

    We spend to much time focusing on the “good old days”, and bellyaching about how lousy things are now. How many readers here bypass Magic Mart to go to Walmart? How many here have bypassed a local restaurant to go to the burgs?

    How much time do we spend watching TV, playing video games, getting high… what ever, when there is so much to do in town, from cleaning litter, to general volunteering?

    We can’t expect the government (Pulaski Council) to fix everything. We have to put in a little too! It’s our town after all! If the council does it, they will have to raise taxes to pay for it. Look at the old picture book that John White put out about Pulaski. Pages up on pages of people, business men and women, educators, entrepreneurs, laborers, men, women, and children who all seemed to have one thing in common… they believed in their community and worked hard to build it into something great!

    Shame on us for letting this happen!! What ever happened to personal accountability and responsibility? Shame on us for leaving the town limits back where there were still shopping options here. Shame on us for buying the made in China products because they were 20 cents cheaper than the made in USA product on the next shelf.

    We all had a hand in our downfall. We have become COMPLACENT and LAZY. And all we want to do is daydream about yesteryear and point the finger as to why things are the way they are now! And as long as this doesn’t change, then neither will the fate of Pulaski.

    I don’t criticize without offering alternatives. This post has done that. It is blunt, and perhaps rude. But I’ve lived here for ten years this month and I’ve heard enough whining about the way things are here. Get involved, help out, vote, invest. It’s really quite simple.