Violence shouldn't keep us from being positive about downtown

  • Follow Opinion columns

The recent events that occurred downtown late at night have prompted their usual and customary media frenzy, coupled with seemingly upstanding citizens voicing their disdain for our community with a rather sickening sense of swagger.

OK. We downtown citizens are used to these reactions, and we can handle them. So, when someone, who will remain anonymous, called my general attitude toward downtown “nauseatingly positive,” I did two things. First, I had a good laugh because, quite frankly, I’ve been called worse than that in my lifetime. Second, I took it and ran with it.

I MEAN, THINK about that term. It’s genius: blunt, to the point and pretty much exactly what I’ve been going for. I just wasn’t able to articulate it so eloquently.

So, why is my attitude toward downtown so positive? Well, let’s take aesthetics and superficiality first.

When I walk down Broad Street and look up, the architecture and bones of this historic district just appeal to my senses. I see old consummated with new in preservation projects and luxury lofts and businesses having found their way into 100-plus-year-old buildings. Who doesn’t love that? You go to New York City’s West Village and walk down Bleecker Street and tell me Broad Street isn’t at least as appealing from an architectural standpoint.

Second, I happen to love working downtown. Casella Eye Center is in its 65th year in the 700 block of Broad Street. I literally make my living on Broad Street, and I’m proud to be a part of things on a street that’s getting a bit younger, a bit trendier, a bit more cosmopolitan and a bit more unique every day.

The occasional pint at Boar’s Head on a nice afternoon when the doors are open to Broad Street is a downtown experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Similarly, rocking outside of the Stillwater Tap Room with a pint of oatmeal stout or loading down your Step Daddy nachos with mango habañero salsa are things you can’t fabricate anywhere else in the CSRA.

NOW, SOMEONE reading this is likely thinking, “What about the panhandlers who come up to you while you’re having that pint?” Well, are most of the few panhandlers downtown patients of mine? Admittedly so. Maybe there’s some secret code that you don’t harass “Dr. Ben.” Likely not so. Therefore, when presented with said situation, I typically offer a generic “God bless you” and move on. I don’t engage in the proverbial wag of the finger and spell out the fact that panhandling is illegal. To me, that’s like telling a pothead that marijuana is illegal. Think about it.

So, having handled that rare situation as mentioned, I go about my day having spent all of two seconds and zero emotion dealing with it.

Third, food downtown is better than it has ever been and, in my opinion, better as a whole than anywhere else in the community. Anyone who says otherwise is lying, delusional or has never had the hanger steak at Frog Hollow Tavern. As well, personally, I
think the red sauce at Eros
Bistro is as good as you’ll find in Augusta.

So, why do I love downtown? Well, simply, because it’s downtown. Ties to Augusta aside, when I go anywhere, I always want to check out what’s happening downtown. I don’t ask “Where’s the nearest place I can supersize a Happy Meal and buy a toaster in the same strip mall?” I already know the answer to that one.

Truly, Corporate America coupled with the perception of high crime (which is just that: perception) has sucked a little bit of soul out of downtown America, but that old forest that was cleared away in, say, the late 1970s – when the malls opened up – gave way to a lush undergrowth that already has become the youthful, lively, and eclectic embodiment of
what a downtown resurgence should be.

SO, IF YOU WANT to gloat about how you never go downtown and only feel safe in the suburbs, do it. This is America, and no one’s going to take your birthday away for doing so. But just know that there are people in Augusta who favor eclectic over generic; unique over cookie-cutter; and solutions over complaints.

(The writer operates a downtown Augusta optometry practice.)

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
seenitB4
90832
Points
seenitB4 05/12/13 - 08:19 am
4
0
Oh Boy

Tell me something Dr Ben......if you were at Miami Beach & there were known sharks in the water would you want them to tell you?

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 05/12/13 - 08:58 am
0
0
Magic Glasses, Magic Glasses !!!
Unpublished

Get two pair for the price of one! Come on down! He's got it. The Buckhead Theology. Is he one of the Hotlanta Crowd?

It seems that some "very smart CEO's of major companies" viewed the CBD as undesirable in the late sixties and early seventies. They have not returned. Major profitable historical theatres closed. Now those theatres and other art venues must beg for public and private money to stay open. WHY? WHY? WHY?

deestafford
28681
Points
deestafford 05/12/13 - 09:13 am
0
1
It's because of attitudes such as DR Ben's that the downtown

area will survive and thrive. The good people who live and work downtown, along with the city government and law enforcement, care enough and are smart enough to whip this problem. There are other cities who have redeveloped a decaying downtown into a wonderful place to live and work and those people are no smarter than the ones in Augusta. I would bet that in 12 months there will be a big turn around in not only reality but in perception of safety downtown. These people love Augusta and will make it happen.

Gage Creed
17859
Points
Gage Creed 05/12/13 - 11:42 am
2
1
7-8-2012 Six people shot on

7-8-2012

Six people shot on Broad Street after First Friday..... I'm positive that the perception Downtown Augusta is safe will become the reality.

Flash forward to 5-12-2013... "I would bet that in 12 months there will be a big turn around in not only reality but in perception of safety downtown." deestafford - I truly hope you are right, but history seems to be against this.

itsanotherday1
45407
Points
itsanotherday1 05/12/13 - 12:22 pm
4
0
""The good people who live

""The good people who live and work downtown, along with the city government and law enforcement, care enough and are smart enough to whip this problem."

I have my doubts about that because I believe those in power to effect change will not take necessary action against the problem. They want to see it as a racial thing when it is a cultural issue. Just look at the facebook posting about the Riverwalk mugger that accuse the naysayers of racism.

countyman
20588
Points
countyman 05/12/13 - 02:01 pm
0
4
One shooting between 7/812

One shooting between 7/812 and 5/2013?
Only three violent crimes?

I would think any city the size of Augusta considers this to be major progress.

Gage Creed
17859
Points
Gage Creed 05/12/13 - 03:07 pm
4
0
Only 3 violent crimes? What

Only 3 violent crimes? What planet are you from? There were more than three violent crimes in the last few days…

Excuse me but six people were shot on 7-8-2012, and there were shots fired in the altercation on 4/27/13, that alone blows your argument out of the water.

The spin must be affecting your cognitive processes....

Darby
26926
Points
Darby 05/12/13 - 03:51 pm
5
0
"But just know that there are people in Augusta

who favor eclectic over generic; unique over cookie-cutter; and solutions over complaints."

.
I do know that. I'm one of them. On the other hand, my "solution" is to take off the kid gloves and crack some heads when dealing with criminals.

Are we afraid we're going to hurt their little feelings if we go all Elliot Ness on them?

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 05:49 pm
2
1
Progress

Are you comparing the beauty and safety of Riverwalk in the 90's with today? Surely not. What about Broad Street after midnight? Of course everywhere was safer in the 80's. Not nearly as many thugs roaming about.

Cultural issue is right.

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 11:40 pm
0
1
I guess so, LL.

I guess so, LL.

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 11:46 pm
0
1
I know that the letter writer

I know that the letter writer is not responsible for the headline. But that headline is ridiculous. I understand the intent, but the headline misses big time.

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 11:52 pm
0
1
Never mind the violence, come

Never mind the violence, come on down just doesn't quite get it. We can decide for ourselves if we want to never mind it and come on down.

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 11:58 pm
0
1
Want South Carolinians from

Want South Carolinians from across the border, get your state to recognize our ccp. You penalize us because we require more training, etc?

KSL
134450
Points
KSL 05/13/13 - 12:08 am
0
1
In fairness to the author of this letter

That headline was awful!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Democrats target turnout for Sunday voting

Registered voters in Augusta-Richmond County can cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Advance Voting Center at Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.
Search Augusta jobs