After taking a few weeks off from covering Davidson Town Hall, it is time to get back at it here at aShortChronicle. For those keeping track, 2019 was a "slow" year for what this blog does, generating only 52 posts for the year. That was the fewest by far of any year since the blog's inception at the beginning of 2012...down from an average of over 150 posts per year. When things are going well, the regular news media can tell the story. We're glad to let them do it since they get paid and we don't! From that perspective, a slow year here at aShortChronicle means likely a good year for things here in town.
However, with 2019 now firmly in the rear view mirror, aShortChronicle wanted to take a few minutes to reflect back on what was accomplished last year in Davidson before looking to the challenges of 2020.
2019 was the year when the general mess left by the former administration(s) at Davidson Town Hall finally go cleaned up. Is it "eat-off-the-floor clean" yet? No, that would not be recommended. But, for many there is no longer the sense Davidson Town Hall has a significant "sanitation problem" either.
Here is just some of the "cleaning" that happened during 2019.
- Beaty Street Park became a reality with the land now protected under a permanent conservation easement. This is a big one and is the culmination of the Save Davidson citizen uprising of 2017.
- The Griffith Street Hotel saga came to an end with citizen plaintiffs settling with the Town to re-coup a portion of their attorney's fees. The Town Planning Department and Town Attorney should now be on notice that they actually have to follow the rules.
- The Public Facilities Bonds passed with just under 70% support. This was slightly higher than Bonds passed in 2017 and a firm rebuke of the position the former regime held that citizens could not be trusted with a vote for something as important as Police/Fire and a new Town Hall.
- Davidson and Mooresville sold Mi-Connection/Continuum and got the Towns out of the cable business. More than a decade ago, citizens were not allowed to vote on purchasing the cable operation. When Davidson citizens were allowed to vote on selling it, they voted 94% FOR the sale.
As a result of these things and others, Davidson's elected officials were all re-elected with minimal opposition. There wasn't a divisive election season and the year ended on a high note with the closing of the Mi-Connection deal.
2020 may be a different story though as the cleaning crews over the last decade just hit the main public areas. There's still unfinished work to be done in the garage, a junk drawer to clean out, and we won't even talk about the attic.
With the economy hitting on all cylinders managing growth will be a constant pressure and stopping bad smelling projects a consistent worry. Here are some of the things that will likely swirl in the next 12 months that could make things messy again.
- The Potts Street massive apartment complex still in legal limbo will likely get some sort of resolution. This project if it goes forward will be something that forever changes that area of town.
- Ditto for the Hoke Lumber redevelopment proposal.
- The Davidson Commons East sites will also see more action with a new residential proposal already in the works on the south side of Woodies Auto. The former Griffith Street Hotel parcels also need to be watched now that they are back on the market.
- Commercial projects like the ones already proposed at Exit 30 and on South main also need to be watched closely to make sure the designs mesh with the surroundings.
Citizen efforts like the one at this blog and to an even greater degree the efforts of the group over at Save Davidson to keep things clean are often mischaracterizing as being "anti-development", but nothing really could be further from the truth. Instead, these efforts are all about ensuring the right developments happen in the right places. If that means working to sanitize some truly bad and foul smelling ideas when they come up, so be it.
Take a look sometime at the Town Planning Department page. There are currently 30 projects on that page ranging from big to small, from residential to commercial. The majority of them have never warranted even a mention by citizens much less organized opposition. Why? Because they are reasonable. Because they are good. Because they fit with the character of the town.
Now think about this. What if citizens had never stood up against efforts like the Catalyst Project, or developing the Beaty Street land instead of keeping it as a park, or stopping the Griffith Street Hotel? What would Davidson look like then? Would it be recognizable as a picturesque small college town? Or, would it be something much different.
All of those things were stopped in the last years of the last decade. Things were kept clean by citizen cleaning crews. It wasn't easy work, but things look pretty good now...on the outside. In the 2020's it will be time to tackle the garage, the junk drawer, and maybe even that attic.