GENE ROBERTSON: Columbia intersection needs inspiring community space

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Walk or ride to the center of our town at the intersection of Broadway and Providence Road. Stop, look and reflect on this spot that I call Columbia's Living Room. What do you see? Are you inspired?

While we may not have something as inspiring as the St. Louis Arch or the Plaza in Kansas City, we could have something that inspires rather than encourages you to move through the intersection to a more aesthetic edifice such as our stately parking garage.

Dream with me. I have a vision of this intersection becoming a mall or commons, which invites all to linger, converse, network and share community events. This space could still accommodate high traffic flow when needed and still serve a community purpose. I envision benches and other sitting places on this plaza-type space.

Not intrusive but functional traffic lights and other streetlights would enhance rather than detract from the ambiance. I believe we need an effort to attract and welcome all to and within our fair city. Surely there are visionaries with the planning, financial resources and architectural skills to address this blight enhancement. We could accomplish this with support from our political bodies and other appropriate entities. We could begin this process with a visionary architectural rendering of this space.

I believe this space ought to reflect an inspirational motto or slogan such as “Columbia — a city that cares.” I think this would lift us into a class above what you now see at this intersection. I believe this is the direction we should be moving toward in the center of our town.

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Richard Saunders May 29, 2012 | 12:30 p.m.

Now this article is pure comedy gold!

Other than the protesters who gather there to "get out the message" to the traffic, I can't imagine anyone wanting to go hang out at one of the busiest intersections downtown. I don't even like being there as long as it takes to cross the street (as traffic is smelly and danger filled), let alone hold a picnic on the spot. While this intersection may not be filled with beauty, it is relatively functional, which is what really matters.

Also, government spending is already impoverishing our community, as the poor are forced to support the rich. Boondoggles such as this only continue to make the enterprise d.b.a. "government" even MORE unaffordable.

Of course, the word "more" indicates that it's already too late, as the debt-fueled spending has completely undermined the productive capacity of our community. All that's left is the last remnants of the hollowed out shell consisting of government and service jobs, neither of which create the wealth that sustains us all.

Here's the reality of the dream in three easy steps.

1. Ever greater amounts of government debt at ALL levels require EVER lower rates of interest (lest they compound, sending debt service costs out of control).

2. Any entities depending upon interest income will cease to exist. The only "survivors" will be the "too big to fail" Wall St. banks helping orchestrate fedgov lending ops (they'll be zombie banks existing only on processing fees and front-running the Fed). Yes, this includes ALL insurers and retirement/investment funds.

3. Socialist utopia achieved (Europe will be there any minute with Spain imploding).

Now, tell me about your dream again, Mr. Robertson?

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble May 29, 2012 | 3:58 p.m.

Richard's comment is a telling image of what happens when imagination and hope die, and money and how it is handled becomes a (or the) primary purpose of life and civilization.

Such expression is all too cheap and prevalent in society, especially online society, today, to the point of having no value whatsoever. What we're starving for is the perspective that takes a step back and wonders and imagines. Is the idea presented here plausible? I don't know. But I'll choose such thinking over vitriolic, dismissive obsession with the purely "functional" aspects of life every time.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 29, 2012 | 5:05 p.m.

Well, first there is this thingie called "eminent domain" that might come into play. Depends upon how much money you're willing to pay for the land. I guess you could declare the whole intersection blighted, which you already did in paragraph #4. How are you on the current EEZ question?

I do agree the intersection looks a mess but, heck, so does the Loop and several other places. Even downtown is a rather eclectic and, imo, unsightly combination of 50s, 60s, 70s, 80's, etc., structures, and most 2nd stories need a facelift or a good scrubbin'.

But don't just think horizontally in your vision. Think vertically, too. Put the roads underground and "mall up" the surface.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders May 29, 2012 | 5:33 p.m.

Kevin, what has "died" is the idea that money represents saved wealth, instead being replaced with IOUs that can be "printed" ad infinitum.

Just today, the City Manager presented his State of the City address. Even though it started off on a positive note, once he made it into the details, it all turns ugly VERY quickly.

For instance, for the first time in my memory, a city manager actually stated that the community could "very possibly be poorer" in the future. Now, if this weren't extremely likely, he would NEVER have made such a statement. You see, even big thinkers like him realize we live in a world of scarcity.

Now, let's go back to my initial comments, and your trite dismissal of them. First, the primary problem isn't that "money and how it is handled becomes a (or the) primary purpose of life and civilization." (BTW, the word you're looking for is greed, which I don't like either). The problem is that too many people like yourself totally ignore the monetary factor (not wanting to appear greedy) without wondering just who this benefits. It is this apathy that fosters the criminals who have undermined society with a fraudulent currency system.

Are you aware that the "Federal Reserve System" is not only NOT a federal agency (hint: think Wall St.), nor is it even any sort of reserve? Right now, they create money from "thin-air" to buy US Treasurys. In any other system, this would be considered fraud, but not there, nope, they call it "monetary policy." Did you know in the original charter it was illegal for them to do this? But of course, it was all legalized later on. Funny thing is, Bernanke denies this "monetization of the debt" all while he does it anyway (as it's policy, remember?).

You likely think I'm some hardliner with no soul, but what I really am is a realist who has realized the true source of the decay of society. And I'm here to tell you all about it.

Speaking of realism, the City Manager also stated that even by adding $585k to the road paving budget, it will still take over fifty years to repave every street in town. Just how does this fact fit into your thinking about further projects?

Now, I have but one thing left to say. I find it extremely ironic that my post contains perspective that you'll never bother to step back and see until you stop engaging in cheap cliched expressions. You, my friend, are the one with "dismissive obsession."

And it is that very obsession that prevents you from seeing reality in any other way than what you wish it to be. Nope, all you can do is to label it as vitriol while making no attempt to counter a perspective you've no interest in understanding. Surely you can do better than merely denigrating my point-of-view? Or is that too functional?

Remember, our childrens' lives depend on these answers. Your dreams today are financed by their nightmares tomorrow.

Choose wisely.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 29, 2012 | 6:00 p.m.

("I believe this space ought to reflect an inspirational motto or slogan such as “Columbia — a city that cares.”)
Those in power only care about themselves.

(Report Comment)
frank christian May 29, 2012 | 7:03 p.m.

Richard S. - Beautiful!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 29, 2012 | 10:41 p.m.

I had an awful nightmare last week. I was driving around downtown Columbia and all the signs (signs identifying stores and other businesses, traffic signs, etc.) were in [modern] Greek! Yes, Columbia had become part of Greece, and we all know what THAT means.

That's what happens when people are repeatedly given whatever they want, simply because they want it, and never mind we don't have the funds to pay for it.

That new monster parking garage does somewhat resemble the Parthenon, don't you think?

When you step back to wonder and imagine, take care you don't step off a cliff. We'd hate to see you fall.

(Report Comment)

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