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I agree with WeSawThat's comment: Perhaps most people are in the mainstream. But the illusion of real tension is politically important for those whose careers rely on elections. Next Wednesday, I will be participating in a brainstorming session on riverfront revitalization for the Central Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau. I don't have a clear idea of what exactly I'll say, and I welcome any suggestions. Right now, I am certain of a few things: 1. Alexandria's riverfront, particularly near the ampitheater, needs serious landscaping. Right now, it looks like we bulldozed everything and hapazardly placed cheap rocks along the shoreline. Plant some tall trees. Please. 2. It'd be nice if Pineville and Alexandria each had their own look-out point with expansive views of the river and the downtown "skyline." 3. We should pursue a partnership with Rapides Regional, because they're about to double in size. If their downtown presentation is not effective, then the entire downtown will suffer. 4. We need to create serious tax incentives for people interested in renovating and restoring the old plantation-style and shotgun-style homes along Lower Third. If the city would give every homeowner over there a tax credit that can only be used for restoration of their home's facade, we're half-way there. 5. We also need to improve the landscaping and road infrastructure along Lower Third. (The best way to approach downtown is from Lower Third). From this vantage, one is first greeted by River Oaks, the Alexandria Museum of Art, and Coughlin Saunders. It is also the only vantage from which one can see the real facade of the Hotel Bentley. 6. Screw the walking trails. While I am certain that there are plenty of residents in Sonya Quarters and Lower Third who feel it's "unfair" (not my words) that "white people can enjoy Compton Park" (not my words), walking trails should not be a top priority. Compton Park works well, because the neighborhood in which it is situated is safe and clean. (Why is it that people don't focus on making these areas safe and clean FIRST before they plan multi-million dollar trails?). It's not a chicken and egg dilemma. We know which comes first: When a neighborhood is safe and clean, people will utilize the city parks and trails. When it's depressed and in disrepair, we're wasting money and energy that could otherwise be directed toward changes that will actually make a noticeable impact.