Downtown renewal effort missing the mark

Liz Ward Editor: I live and work in the downtown DeKalb area. I have always felt that downtown DeKalb already offers a lot in terms of beauty and art and business and music ... but someone has decided the downtown area seems hindered by some preconceived idea that it's not “pretty” enough to attract anything of substance. We have all seen this in the recent Re:New DeKalb efforts in which, I believe, the city of DeKalb is trying to “beautify” the area in order to “attract.” This seems all good and fine on the surface level. However, I was in for a sad discovery this morning when I arrived at my downtown DeKalb office: I bike to work every day and chain my bicycle up to a bike rack that sits behind the old theater/empty Mexican restaurant in Palmer Court. I was stopped by construction workers this morning who explained to me that they are removing the bike rack. Are they putting in a new one? No. Are they moving it somewhere, say, around the corner? Nope. I offered to chain my bike to a tree, and I was told that I can do that until they remove the trees. So now they're tearing out trees and making the Palmer Court area unaccessible by bicycle. In this time of crazy energy prices and questionable economic futures, I think that a multi-million dollar “renewal” effort is not only frivolous but really missing the mark when you're making the whole area less “green” and less accessible. DeKalb's charm lies in its history, the people and artists and business owners who have worked to stake a claim in this downtown area, and the people who choose to live here. We already think this place is beautiful. We already have services, businesses, culture, art, music and relationships. This Re:New DeKalb effort is renewing absolutely nothing for many of us. Liz Ward DeKalb