by Sam Hieb
Lots going on out there regarding the dispute between the Greensboro City Council and Downtown Greensboro Inc. Yes!Weekly’s Eric Ginsburg on president Ed Wolverton:
Wolverton began his position with DGI towards the end of 2007 after serving as the president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. for about six years. According to the Wichita Business Journal, many of the ideas Wolverton’s old outfit pursued were similar to those DGI has discussed recently.
“Wolverton said the task force identified the Top 5 projects, which included supporting development of the east bank of the Arkansas River downtown: recruiting a grocery store, developing a new vision plan, creating a permitting program to allow street musicians and creating more ‘people places’ such as parks and plazas,” the March 2003 article reported.
All of those projects, with the exception of development along the Arkansas River, are primary development ideas DGI has been working on in the last year.
Add a bike share program and rooftop vegetation to the list. Look, I’ve never been to Wichita –it might be a very nice city, but the bottom line is Greensboro’s getting recycled group-think ideas more than a decade old.
Meanwhile, the Rhino’s John Hammer says it’s only a matter of time before Wolverton’s gone — and if Wolverton has anyone to blame, he “need only look in the mirror.”
I thought it was odd when I read in Ginsburg’s article that “Wolverton instructed reporters to leave as the DGI board meeting began.” Hammer did as well, to say the least:
The DGI board had a meeting on Feb. 21, and I thought that since I was a downtown property owner who is forced, through my taxes, to pay DGI hundreds a dollars a year that I was a member of DGI. As Wolverton not so politely told me, DGI has no members and I could not attend the meeting. What does this board do that is so secretive they don’t want downtown property owners who are paying for it to find out what it is doing?
So the $1 million a year from the city didn’t buy the city the right to see Wolverton’s contract and my paltry few hundred dollars a year didn’t buy me the right to sit in the same room as the vaunted DGI board and listen to them deliberate on how they would spend our tax money.
What strikes me about this debate is for years we’ve told how various projects — the baseball stadium, the Elon law school — are going to revitalize downtown. That the City Council is upset to say the least with DGI is an admission that they aren’t working. With that in mind, why should we believe that a downtown performing arts center would be any different?