A letter from a former resident back for a visit discussed the run-down condition of Main Street and was disillusioned by its shabbiness and all the empty buildings. The writer further wrote disparagingly about the new stores that built out away from downtown.
On the other side of the coin, a former resident was in my office, and she exclaimed how Ottumwa has grown and what great stores and malls we now have. As she discussed Bridge View, the water park and all the various new buildings, it was apparent she was very favorably impressed.
For us living here, these things come on more or less one at a time, and we don’t quite realize all the changes until someone brings it to our attention. Of course, many people, including myself, don’t like the idea of Super Walmart turning lots of businesses into out-of-business businesses or causing them great economic harm.
The solution for downtown Ottumwa is one of two. 1. Proudly let it turn into a ghetto of beer joints, pot dens, strippers and prostitutes, tattoo shops and so on, or, 2. bulldoze the whole thing down and build the “GOAT” Great Ottumwa Any Thing mall and make it attractive enough in price for merchants to rent, and attractive and convenient enough to draw shoppers.
The main draw and anchor place would be a casino. We might give land to the Indians so they could thumb their noses at Des Moines and build. With $33 million profit, they could be required to pay for all this remodeling as a condition for existing in Ottumwa. Alternatively, our local leaders could obtain a $5 billion grant from the federal government and proceed immediately. I can draw the plan up at a modest cost.
I can see it now, Ottumwa’s mascot being a goat. Goat statutes would be everywhere. When they excavate Ottumwa in a thousand years, archeologists will describe our goat fetish, and we will be described as a truly decadent society. But what the heck, we need to get this downtown straightened out, and we’ll all be dead then.