Back before computer games were indistinguishable from actual armed warfare, there was a thinkers’ game called “SimCity.” The object was to build your own thriving metropolis; as your city’s god, you could control the topography, the culture, the climate, the economy, the infrastructure, and the placement of buildings and businesses.
It was a fun little exercise in urban development, even though I mostly endeavored to see how fast I could make my little city implode by forcing it to endure the harshest and most outlandish of conditions, playing cavalierly with my citizens’ lives with my willy-nilly master plan.
I often wonder if the Powers That Be are playing “SimCity” right here in Norwich, but that would suggest higher, intelligent minds at work. Comprehensive master plan? Please. The more that I see happen in terms of “development,” the more I’m convinced there is no plan at all.
Case in point: Thursday’s headline, “Developers eye Cortland Street properties.” Let me start out by saying I’m not one to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. The fact that any developer is looking anywhere near Norwich is a good, good thing. But in terms of planning – looking at what the city needs, and where – this is another accident waiting to happen.
It saddens me, again, that we’ve become so needy for “economic development” that we’re willing to prostrate ourselves for anyone who waves a wad of cash around. Is our situation really so bleak that we’d advocate people selling their homes and businesses in favor of another drug store at a prime intersection that already has two?
Walgreen’s. There, I said it. No, it’s not official by any means. And it’s purely speculation on my part, let me be clear. But my money is on Walgreen’s being the unnamed tenant the developer seeks to site on the Cortland Street parcels.
Situating a Walgreen’s where Gary Bilow’s service station now stands would, of course, pit it directly opposite our dueling Rite Aids – making that main intersection 3 for 4 in the drug store trade. Yep, there’s a sterling example of urban planning...