The Daily Journal published a story in Thursday’s newspaper about the razing of the Steele building on East Washington Street and the construction of a new multipurpose building that will be one part restaurant and one part cafeteria, which will serve those visiting Discovery Place KIDS as a place to eat lunch.
The first comment received from a reader was that the effort was “a waste of taxpayer money.” As the story clearly pointed out, however, there is to be zero taxpayer dollars involved with this project. The public-private partnership between the city of Rockingham, the Cole Foundation and the private developer, yet to be known, who will build the restaurant.
This a win-win-win situation for the city, for visitors of Discovery Place KIDS and for downtown in general. Some of the comments about downtown lacking a quality restaurant might have taken those who work in downtown eating establishments a little off guard, and rightfully so.
Even they, however, stand to benefit from a third restaurant within walking distance of the courthouse and City Hall. You see, any day the menu at one place doesn’t suit the consumer, they’ll have yet another option to stay downtown for a meal.
As City Manager Monty Crump pointed out, this project can be not only a building block for downtown revitalization but also a “model for redevelopment.”
Anytime a municipality can attract new business without the use of taxpayer dollars is a good thing. That’s what appears to have happened here. City officials, along with the Cole Foundation trustees and those at the Foundation for the Carolinas, should be commended for not only their efforts but for their support of a vision to make downtown Rockingham a better, more attractive place to be.