Every morning, after I got my kids settled, I prepare myself a nice cup of green tea and sit down on our dining table to catch up on latest news and my social media world. Yes, usually it has been about 6 hours since I last checked my Facebook or Twitter, and it's about that time when slight withdraws are starting to built up.
It's pretty much always the same. There are personal updates, the typical bad news, and all the "other" really "important news" that should probably not even be read.
This morning was different.
This morning I came across an [almost] inspiring headline from The Lowell Sun.
"Can teamwork save downtown?"
The article is about the "state" of downtown Lowell.
"The downtown business district is prosperous, or floundering, depending on who you ask."
For me this posts a few questions that have been on my mind for quite a while. I personally think downtown Lowell could do better, but I wonder if:
- it is all the parking?
- It is all about the bars?
- It is all about two way traffic?
- It is just the landlords?
- It is all about the 'thugs'?
Recently, when driving through downtown, I asked my wife Emily why she thinks so many businesses left, and/or are closing down. Her answer was profound to me: "Well, there is nothing to buy for the majority of people in Lowell." I think this hits the nail straight onto the head. We discussed this further while driving and came to the conclusion that while there are some great restaurants in the downtown area, there aren't really that many stores or shops that our family can or would shop at. Yes, we frequent the restaurants, we have our hair cut downtown, we visit the toy store, but that's about it. And I don't think we're alone.
In a time where online shopping is so attractive and dominant. In Lowell, we can also add the large population of low income households on top of that.
So what can be done?
Well, I am no economist. I am just a straight forward community member with his own opinion. But I do think "Teamwork" and "collaboration" can better the current situation.
[Unfortunately I am not sure I got any "teamwork" from that Sun article. Or, I didn't understand it, who knows.]
But this teamwork needs to include the voices of everyone. It can't be built solely on the "status quo". And, in my frank opinion, it needs to include the notion that maybe, just maybe, downtown Lowell as we know it, and as it is envisioned currently, is not the right strategy for a downtown area of our current time. Parking is a factor for many downtown small businesses, and there needs to be a compromise found for that. But maybe, it takes more than discussing parking and traffic, to inspire development.
Yes, I think we need more retailers downtown. But I also think we need more restaurants, boutiques, hotels, parking spaces, events, galleries, and pop-up shops.
And I think, together, as a community, we can find out how to get them here.
Change starts from within. And i know we all know that there is "a lot to like about Lowell". So lets find a way for everyone within our 12 neighborhoods, and outside, to fall in love with Lowell and come here to dine, drink, shop, and do art!
Let's truly work together, across sectors, to build an even better and stronger Lowell for the future.