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April 5, 2008

Interesting Letter to the Editor in the Island Gazette

This Letter to the Editor was in the April 02, 2008 print edition. And although it was a bit harsh in areas, I think the author's sentiment is shared by many and I was glad to see it in print. And as for his second to the last sentence, I believe we are seeing a lot more than just a 'whiff,' we are seeing real concrete progress and an ever growing energy within the community to move forward. The best years of Carolina Beach are in it's future.

Thank You

Dear Editor,
Downtown CB has never looked better. Why do I say this?

You might assume I am talking about all the recent beautification efforts made by the Boardwalk Makeover Group, but I am not.

While I wholeheartedly salute the efforts of this tireless group who are finally trying to do something,...anything..., to overcome the inertia that has plagued this area, it really does pale in comparison to the splendor and the beauty of seeing the wrecking ball come to some real architectural eyesores in the CBD (Central Business District).

Yes, nothing quite warms my heart like the progress only a good "tearing down" can achieve!

I haven't been this happy since the Hotel Astor incinerated and did us all a big favor.

Now I know the Island Gazette's editorial regulars, the "everything is perfect just like it is" group, is in a state of misguided panic over the fact that the Kings and the Carolina Apartments, or whatever they are/were, are being cleared to make way for a hotel. A hotel that will inevitable block out the sun, increase traffic ten fold, raise taxes, reduce our fine artesian water quality and bring a plague of locusts to Canal Drive.

"What with Kings being torn down, (gasp!) Where on earth will our tourists be able to buy T-shirts on this island?!?! Or a Rebel Flag/Elvis/Number "3", beach towel, chair and umbrella ensemble?!?!

Well, they probably will have to walk at least another 50 feet to the next beach store. They aren't hard to find, I'm pretty sure the lights make them visible from orbit.

The dwindling, but highly vocal minority, the ardent supporters of the 'blue collar family beach' concept will say something feeble like, "another part of history, sob, Jubilee Park, sob, Ocean Plaza, sob, etc, etc..."

Whatever.

If all these so called 'land marks' were so special and dearly loved how did they fall into the state of utter disrepair that they were?

I'll take a vacant lot over a borderline tenement needing a date with a bulldozer any day.

But what about the Carolina Apartments? I have to admit, it has been hard to ignore the rustic charm of the those 4x8 sheets of plywood that have graced the windows for the last several years now. Hate to see all that go just so we can git us a 'fancy new city-folk hotel.' I actually heard some visitors on bikes comment that parts of the CBD "...looked like that area of El Salvador that they visited on their Church Mission Group."

No lie.

Who needs them out-o-towners? They can just stay on the other side of that bridge right? Who needs their money anyways? Well, namely the folks that own the place that rented the bikes they were riding. They do. The folks that own the restaurants where they will eat lunch. It's called "an e-c-o-n-o-m-y"; and it is not helped by tourists who see such things, go home and spread the word that parts of CB are "third world minus the plane ride."

Casualties of the Progress War you say? One more step in Carolina Beach's inevitable march towards becoming another Myrtle Beach? (Yeah. Right.)

Nope. Just a few more obvious signs of commercial neglect that desperately needed to be demolished with extreme prejudice.

But even though there are still so many more to go. I am still glad.

I am glad that there is new blood on this island that is once more on the move in this desperately stagnated and overlooked area. I am glad there is a Boardwalk Makevover movement. (...though I would still rather see major cosmetic surgery.)

I am glad that two new hotels are approved and on their way to the CBD.

I am glad that there is no longer anything Alan Gilbert and his befuddled "has beens" can do about it. (after all, the only growth I ever saw come from AG's "Smart Growth" was in my tax and water bills.)

Maybe these are the beginning steps to getting rid of the multitude of signs I see more on this island that trees (You know: For Sale! ..Price Reduced! ..Price Seriously Reduced! ..Price Desperately Reduced! Anybody got a match?!)

Maybe then my house might actually be worth what the overly optimistic taxman says it is.

Maybe some impact fees could help our water system produce something that doesn't look like Skim Milk coming out of my faucets.

A flicker of hope! Progress! A whiff of momentum! It's been so long, I'd forgotten what it looked like- so I'll take whatever I can get- Starting with the wrecking ball...
J.S. Johnson
Carolina Beach, NC
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