Letter: Healthy downtown needs more than sidewalks
There were four De Sotoans present at last Thursday’s De Soto City Council meeting who were not city staff or elected officials. My special reason for attending the meeting was to hear and to view first-hand the completed design for the improvement of our two-block downtown business district.
There is much to be concerned regarding this historic and vital segment of De Soto. Our situation is not unique in that the vast majority of small towns have been left to decline with the advent of the interstate highway systems with its 70 mile per hour automobiles that transport their owners to the big box stores to make their purchases. By becoming willing participants, we have maybe saved a few dollars but have destroyed our local economy.
Several different design phases were presented for when funds become available. The difficult decision remaining is to determine if the entire project cannot be done all at one time, then what part should be done first.
Though it is obvious to me that there is a definite need for new sidewalks designed to provide handicap accessibility, that alone will not draw people and additional businesses to De Soto and away from Kansas Highway 10. They will not slow down and stop just to see our new sidewalks.
It will not be a Price Chopper grocery store that will stabilize and improve De Soto’s economy, and it definitely is not a Wal-Mart. What will keep our town’s head above water, pun intended, are festivals at Riverfest Park, specialty restaurants that attract customers from Kansas City, or stores that offer high-end and antiques from Europe; the kind of subtle attractions that will help De Soto to hold its own against the malls and merchandising of metropolitan America.
Get out of your automobile, walk down a sidewalk, visit a business you have not been to lately, get to know your neighbor; if you desire to be truly unique in today’s world and attend city council meetings on a regular basis.