Jeanne Rochford: Downtown is thriving
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 29, 2011 at 11:58 p.m.
Downtown Gainesville is alive and well.
How great it is to see downtown Gainesville bustling with people of all ages! On graduation weekend, families poured out of the Hampton Inn in search of places to eat. The restaurants were packed inside as well as at outdoor cafes.
Vellos had a successful Chamber After Hours event. The Artisan Guild is moving downtown. What fun it will be to have so many boutiques despite the inconvenience (that's an understatement) of the Main Street narrowing. Downtown continues to thrive.
Main Street is a state highway in the city that is going to have to be maintained by the county. (How confusing is that?)
But why tamper with the parking? Yes, employees need a place to park, but so do customers.
Best of all, the utility poles are no longer plastered with ugly flyers.
Former City Manager Wayne Bowers arranged for kiosks to serve as bulletin boards, allowing us to see clean utility poles until all utilities can be placed underground.
Neighborhoods are now defined by tasteful banners designed by Arnell Downs. The landscaping is delightful, and the artistic boxes that hide electrical cords for festivals are extremely creative.
There is a farmers market, entertainment in the Bo Diddley Plaza on Friday nights, an art walk once a month and spring and fall festivals.
It's not a fluke that downtown now has 24-hour activity. Let us give full credit to Ken and Linda McGurn for having the vision and implementation to bring this about. Also, we have to thank Billy Scheel for his work in choosing the tenants that make for it being a destination eating alternative.
The Visitor and Convention Bureau can help your group plan a progressive restaurant tour downtown. What a gastronomical experience.
And then there is Shawn Shephard, the President of GDOT (Gainesville Downtown Owner and Tenants), who is working to bring downtown owners together. As the former proprietor of Harry's and now co-owner of Vellos, he has been in the trenches, and he knows how all the members feel.
There is always more force in unity. Like our forefathers said, "united we stand, separate we fall."
Jeanne Rochford lives in Gainesville.