“If I hear someone say ‘I feel your pain’ once more, I’m going to throw up,” announced OP trustee candidate Milstein at the end of an impassioned peroration last night at the Ascension forum. He sat down, and up stood the undeniably bright and voluble Barbara Dolan, of the New Leadership Party: “I’m tempted to say, ‘Bob, I feel your pain,'” which gets her the prize for quick thinking this time around. Other, less telling, flourishes came from Milstein’s Vision Community Action running mate, Jim Balanoff, who produced a plethora of admonitions and avowals, among them “Let me be frank,” “Be honest,” and “We got to be honest.” This was good advice, and a church auditorium is a good place for it, even if one man’s honesty is another’s bombast. What else last night? The Marion Street Mall restreeting loomed large. VMA-Progressive Action candidate Jon Hale defended it as part of a plan for all of downtown, calling it otherwise indefensible. You want to “revitalize” a retail area, you increase “connectivity” – make it easier to get around. So you break up whatever “superblock” interferes with that. It’s getting around that matters. As a statement of the superblock problem, we might consider this from a blog by Richard Layman, “a historic preservation and urban revitalization advocate and consultant” in Washington, DC., Rebuilding Space in the Urban Place: “While the intent of the superblock was to separate pedestrians and automobiles, what happened is that places were made over for the car, and the walking experience, especially in center cities, was debilitated.” Hale reminded the intense and energetic Milstein of his argument for saving the Colt Building, “I don’t care how much it costs, we have to save the building.” “History matters,” Milstein said last night, dusting off an old slogan-argument to bolster his Marion Mall preservation theme. He went further, envisioning a pot of gold in old buildings whose historic ambience would boost tourism to the tune of millions in receipts. Damn the tax base, full speed ahead with tourism, seems to be the message.

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