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Letter: Many preservationists gave up on Main Street

Many preservationists gave up on Main Street

In regard to the Jan. 22 letter touting the contributions of preservationists: How exactly does voicing opposition to the pedestrian mall 30 years ago become a preservationist’s bragging point today? Opposing the construction of the pedestrian mall to preserve second-rate retailing in an area that was already experiencing urban flight is exactly why some preservationists are labeled obstructionists.

Preservation folks are certainly worthy of our praise, but they, like the city, gave up on Main Street. If compliance to the building code was pressed by preservationists and violations strictly enforced by City Hall, those buildings lucky enough to be still standing would be better candidates for rehab today.

More recently, instead of facing the challenge to revitalize and enhance the pedestrian mall without automobiles, as Olmsted would have done, preservationists once again have let us down. Taking comfort in the fact that they never wanted the failed mall in the first place does not excuse their total lack of involvement in the redesign process. It only proves that they, along with the politicians and city planners, are completely out of touch with the forces driving downtown revitalization today.

Having the opportunity to get behind the wheel on Main Street is of little or no importance and may even be considered a negative. While roads and bridges deteriorate and crumble around us, how could anyone morally condone spending tens of millions of dollars on that boondoggle?

Michael J. Zobel