At this writing, the Dream Walk was held about one week ago. The purpose of the event was to gather information from the public about possible uses for the vacant buildings in, essentially, Rushville’s central business district. More specifically, the flyers around town pointed out that the goal was to “envision how empty spaces and buildings could be used to return Rushville to the vibrant community it once was.” Now, that is a noble goal and one I totally support.
As I thought about what the outcome of the Dream Walk might be, I had only one reservation. The comment had been made that, perhaps, the general consensus of opinion might be that some of the vacant buildings should be torn down and replaced with parking lots or “green spaces.” I’ve heard that many good ideas were suggested to revitalize the downtown. I think we have to be careful, though, that downtown Rushville doesn’t turn into even more parking lots or green spaces, assuming that demolishing vacant buildings is as creative as we can manage to be.
If you look at the flyer promoting the Dream Walk, you get a very interesting view of the downtown area as it looked sometime around 1900, give or take a decade or two. Actually, it’s sad to see how many thriving businesses used to be downtown and to reflect on how many of them are gone. Of course, that was in a time when downtown Rushville really was the economic center for the county. With the advent of the supermarket and the superstore, most downtown merchants were essentially forced out of business.
But more than anything else, it was the automobile that was the final straw that broke the back of the downtown merchant. Stop and think about all the parking lots there already are in the central business district. Eventually, we could end up with just our beautiful courthouse surrounded by green space and parking lots. To me, at least, that’s not a very inviting prospect.