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Delores Brewer, Riverfront Center, and the Problem with Brainstorming Sessions I met with Delores Brewer today. Among other things, we spoke about SmartCode, which seems to be a fascinating and innovative way to approach urban planning. It's obvious that there is a lot to be finished, and I hope that the city will embrace a proven model as a guideline, rather than a pastiche of halfbaked ideas. Later on, I made a grand entrance at this brainstorming session that specifically addressed our riverfront center. By grand entrance, I mean that I walked into this big room full of people ("important people?") and TRIPPED AND FELL ON MY ASS. It was awesome. They'll get used to me eventually; I fall all of the time. Two nights ago, one of the managers at the Diamond Grill wanted to call me a cab because I was stumbling all over the place. And no, I wasn't drunk. Anyway, back to the riverfront session: I was invited to attend by Dr. Gormanis (sp?), who, by the way, rocks. They told us to pretend like money was not an option, so, as you can expect, there were a number of totally wild ideas being pitched. Let the dreamers dream, right? I said the following things: 1. The Riverfront Center needs a total cosmetic makeover: new paint, new floors (slate, wood, marble), new lighting. 2. The center should be lit up at night. 3. There needs to be an effective space for musical acts. No one wants to play at the Coliseum. It's gross. 4. The Jackson Street Bridge is a total eyesore. Light it up, paint it, do whatever. It's hideous. 5. The interior columns should be redone. Right now, they're purple and green. There were many other fantastic ideas that were pitched. Horatio Isadore, Clifford Moller, and Greg Gormanis all contributed greatly, and there were several other people who had smart, feasible ideas (I just don't know their names). Horatio said we need to diversify the types of conventions, we need to make the riverfront "sexy," and we need to promote the diversity of our community. All fantastic, effective ideas. Someone said that we should invest in a big neon marquee that tells people what's going on in town. Agreed. Someone else said that we should invest in a city-wide trolly. Funny thing: I had said the EXACT same thing earlier in the day to Delores Brewer. I don't know who most of these people are, and there were a few people there who had nothing substantive to say... and were REALLY negative about their vision of our future. I'm not sure how they're contributing. There were also people whose SOLE agenda was to promote other areas of town, and although we should be committed to the future of the entire community, the purpose of the session was the riverfront center, not the crappy hotel you manage on MacArthur Drive. Sorry. At the very end of the session, someone said that we need a water park. It had absolutely nothing to do with what we were talking about, and at first, I thought it was mentioned in jest. A few people, maybe three, kept saying that we needed things to do at night, and it was really obvious that most of them had never been downtown, except when commuting from Ball to City Hall. Martin Johnson got all happy when the water park idea was mentioned, and he said that we should really spend money on studying the feasibility of this idea. ONE person mentioned this. ONE. And suddenly, Mr. Johnson believes that there is a silent majority of people who are clammoring for this park. No. I'm not sure what this woman does, who she is, or what her agenda is. I may have misheard this, but I think she was in the hotel/motel business-- probably in management. Correct me if I am wrong: But there is not a silent majority who believes we should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for consultation on this stupid idea that, for whatever reason, will not go away. Alexandria should be investing in SMART projects that help GROW and UNIFY. If a water park was really such a great, profitable idea, GUESS WHAT? Private industry would have already built one. We should not be spending our tax dollars on new multi-million dollar projects when 1) Our convention center is in need of serious attention. 2) Our downtown needs significant capital improvements. And 3) We don't need any more consultants. (Most of this consultant b.s. is stuff that I could do with a computer, a calculator, and a telephone). In other words, it doesn't take a highly-trained government-friendly accountant to look at the P & L's of other water parks and a demographic study (available on www.cenlaprospector.com) to tell us anything we shouldn't already know. So, therein lies the problem with these brainstorming sessions: You hold them to talk about the riverfront center, and by the end of the session, you're talking about a stupid water park.