Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bay Walk and the Two Bills

There is no doubt that Bill Edwards has a plan for Bay Walk. If you have any doubt drive by and note the construction. Recent history would indicate that Mr. Edwards approaches all of his projects with a plan in place and with well defined goals and objectives.
With renovation of the facility, a strong marketing campaign and Bill Edward's reputation, new vendors and retailers should be easy to find. Bill Edwards is setting the stage to move the much touted downtown renaissance at least a block or two to the West.
The much bigger question is what is the other Bill, Bill Foster doing? The Edwards design is configured to address some of the public traffic/protester issues but only the truly naive would believe that those who used Bay Walk as a stage for protest will not return. Then there is the whole issue of the sidewalk that the City deeded to the property.
The key to Bay Walk, or whatever Bill Edwards decides to name it, is public safety. The list of retailers, bars or restaurants, can be award winning, but if the public does not feel safe they simply will not patronize the facility. Only the City can provide that feeling of personal safety.
It would be nice to pass the buck on this one to the Bill Edwards team. Passing the buck is something this administration seems to be good at. Any security force the facility fields must be backed up by a City plan to protect the public.
Mayor Bill Foster should begin now developing a plan. It is not too early. The current Police Department administration will trot out every excuse they can conjure up to limit their accountability for Bay Walk Security.
The Mayor should pull together public safety people, parking, public works, sanitation and include the Bill Edwards people to look at the design and begin to develop a strategy that can be implemented with the grand opening and going forward. Forcing Bill Edwards to hire off duty police officers is not the answer.
It might also be a good idea to talk to some of those who were the most vocal protesters at Bay Walk in the past and get their input and perhaps cooperation. Sticking your head in the sand and thinking these people do not have a stake in what happens at Bay Walk would be a big mistake.
Bill Edwards has stepped up and is making a big investment and taking an even bigger risk. Mayor Foster needs to be proactive on this one. The City's record dealing with protesters and public safety at Bay Walk is questionable at best.
With all of the other issues downtown, adding the new Bay Walk is going to be a public safety challenge. Mayor Foster needs to get a plan developed, bring it to City Council so they can provide for the cost now rather than later.
One bad night, one event that scares the public and all of Bill Edward's money and effort can go right down the drain.
Mayor Bill Foster needs to provide the leadership on this one.
Good luck Mr. Edwards.
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