Every New Year’s Eve in an even year, I say something to the effect of, “Odd years are always better for me. I can’t wait for 2019!”
I support this blanket statement with facts such as: I was born in an odd year, got married in an odd year and had my first baby in an odd year.
“Clearly, odd years are just better for me!”
This is one of those things that I think once you say it enough you just start to believe it. And I really had convinced myself of this.
But when I really started thinking about this statement, I realized just how profoundly stupid it was. Because I can think of just as many excellent things that happened to me in even years: I graduated from college, I started a business and I had my second child.
And the groundwork for everything good that happened in the odd years was laid in the even years. And vice versa.
So this New Year’s Eve, I am retiring my nonsensical lamentation that “even years just aren’t good for me.” I think we are all always striving to finish some sort of business, and if we are lucky enough to complete a task, the date of its completion is usually pretty arbitrary.
I know I have some things I hope to accomplish in 2020, and I am pretty excited about it. I don’t need no stinkin’ odd year!
Next year looks to be an exciting one for our community as a whole, as our area has some unfinished business from 2019 to attend to as well.
Let’s look back and forward at some of the biggest issues we have already been dealing with but we hope will find some resolution in the coming year.
I-10 Bridge Toll
Opposition for a toll on the proposed Interstate 10 bridge was loud and fierce. And in a rare occurrence, South Alabama leaders actually listened to their constituents, as the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization essentially killed it once they removed it from their short-term plan. This was much to the chagrin of Gov. Kay Ivey, who really should have seen this coming, but didn’t.
While you can certainly say it was a win for democracy in the sense that the voice of the people was heard, once Memorial Day weekend 2020 rolls around and traffic becomes an absolute nightmare again, we will all be sighing and asking ourselves, “what are we going to do about this mess?”
We are experiencing explosive growth and hopefully that’s not going to change, so this problem is not going to go away. It’s just going to get worse.
Alternative plans, even high-speed ferries, have been discussed, but I think the only real solution is to build the bridge.
In 2020, we just need to figure out a sensible, palatable way to pay for it. That should be easy, right?
Mobile Civic Center
Mayor Sandy Stimpson never made it a secret he wanted to do something about the aging Mobile Civic Center, which is outdated, in need of major repairs and upgrades and is a huge drain on the city’s coffers every year.
Everyone could agree something needed to be done, but once two competing plans were presented in 2019, no one could seem to agree on exactly what that should be.
After one of the two companies withdrew from the process — they say because it was clear the city favored the other outfit — we were left with a plan by The Cordish Companies. And let’s just say their “Live!” plan fell pretty flat with all of the stakeholders involved.
Cordish planned to keep the theater but raze the arena and create a large outdoor green space surrounded by strips of bars, restaurants and retail, which they usually fill with national chains, like Chipotle or some of Guy Fieri’s restaurant concepts.
This plan didn’t address where we would move Mardi Gras balls and other sporting, business and entertainment events in need of a larger venue. Also LoDa business owners were less than thrilled with the plan for a competing, city-subsidized, “insta-entertainment” district just blocks away.
Thankfully, the mayor and his administration listened to these very valid concerns and sat back down with Cordish to see if they could come up with a new plan. We are currently still waiting to see what — if anything — they will present as an alternative. But the city came up with some of their own ideas, which included a smaller, updated arena, low-density residential and green space that could be left alone or developed later. Which sounds like exactly what it should have been from the beginning!
Hopefully, even if Cordish steps away, we will see some ground break and real progress made in 2020 at 401 Civic Center Drive.
After the scorching debate over the I-10 toll and the less heated one over what should be done with the Mobile Civic Center, we finished the year up with a smoking hot discussion over annexation. Though the overall demographics were not going to change that much, it became a racial issue and three West Mobile neighborhoods who wanted to join the city were not even allowed to vote on the matter (which was unprecedented), as the City Council voted down the measure along racial lines to even allow a referendum.
Considering that municipal elections will be held in 2021, it’s hard to imagine any more attempts will be made at this in 2020.
But I think the absolute worst thing that could happen to Mobile is for a bunch of these areas to incorporate outside of the city, creating little fiefdoms run by 10 different mayors and councils. That would be chaos, and coordinating all of that to advance our goals as a community as a whole would be a nightmare.
I understand the racial component to this, but there has to be a way to add people to the city where everyone feels good about the numbers. Because if we allow a bunch of incorporation, it will no doubt only weaken the city.
I said it in 2019 and I’ll keep saying it in 2020: We are stronger together.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy (even) New Year! Thank you for reading and supporting Lagniappe.
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