Columbus Commons – A Wasteful Idea

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The Columbus Commons opened in May 2011.(Photo: Phong Nguyen (flickr))
The Columbus Commons opened in May 2011.(Photo: Phong Nguyen (flickr))

I’ve lived in Columbus since 1975. When I arrived, the only real “culture” this town had was the Ohio State Fair, ladies night (Monday night at Max and Erma’s) and the occasional Woody Hayes temper tantrum. This town has grown so much that you might not recognize it if you moved away for a few years.

Downtown has seen a lot of change. It was once bustling with the Neil House, Lazarus, Sun Television and many restaurants. But the central city started to fade.

In the early 80s, city leaders pushed to revitalize the downtown. We first had an ice rink called the Centrum which was a government idea to build something to create some excitement downtown.

Somehow the metaphor of people skating around in circles fit this project.

Then came a bigger idea. A mall. City Center, the supposed crown jewel. The center of the Universe.

At first it was a jewel, with Gucci, Jacobsen’s, Lazarus, Marshall Fields.

Well, the mall failed too. Like everything else, market forces, a change in gravity with people flocking to the burbs after work and a few shootings changed the picture for the once hailed City Center.

Now as I drive downtown to get a sandwich at my favorite deli (I’m not telling which one), I see where we have our own version of Central Park — a $20 million playground with trees, walkways and once again other “amusements” to try and get people to come downtown.

Some call it greenspace. I call it a “hole.” Note to Mayor Coleman: we are in Ohio. We don’t lack parks and green spaces.

Who cares if it cost $15 million tear down the other boondoggle that was created so that we can have central park without museums, history, grand hotels, Woody Allen movies, etc.

Even though the park is paid for by federal money, you and I pay for this kind of wasteful spending. I suspect that one day many years from now some genius is going to propose that the park be torn out to be replaced with the world’s largest replica of Stonehenge.

So, what does Stonehenge have to do with Columbus, Ohio? The answer, of course, is the same as a central park. We can use “son of heaven” posters, Centrum skates, and some ruins of the mall that was once there to create this. It will be a perfect compliment to the replica of the Santa Maria.

Mayors sometimes have grandiose ideas, but Mayor Coleman seems to have money burning a hole in his pocket. He has what I am now calling “democratrackitis.” Loosely defined as the obsession with building trains and/or trolleys, that people don’t need or want that go to and from places.

Columbus imposed an income tax increase fairly recently. The extra half percent is burning a hole in his pocket. The new tax money was supposed to pay for everything that we absolutely “have to have.” We need to have police and firefighters, a few other services, but in reality whatever money government collects will be spent — even if it is not necessary. Mayor Coleman, if you plan to keep spending like most politicians do, then I have a few ideas.

I would like an ocean. Not a really big one, but a nice ocean, with waves, maybe some clams, dolphins.

Some mountains would be nice as well.

No deserts please. I don’t like scorpions and snakes.

Every day you hear the cry from left of center pundits, “Tax the rich! Tax the rich!” Why? So that we can get more ice skating rinks with no ice skaters, downtown parks in a state that is mostly rural? Malls in places where people don’t want to shop?

Note to our future mayors. If you want to build Stonehenge replicas downtown over the future decrepit, useless park that we now have, how about just a picture instead?

  • Freegigi3000

    Wow….such negativity. It seems people of using the park. What did you propose for that area? Nothing i bet, you just want to sit back and complaint and tear down what others are trying to build up.

    • friend

      Others may be trying to build it up but you and I are paying for it.

  • Lois Lane

    Every day I look at the Columbus Commons from my office window, the empty Columbus Commons. Looks like there’s no place to sit other than the “cafe area”.
    Also, how would I ever know when to take my child down to ride the carrousel. It’s hardly ever open. Same with the Scioto Mile. Why aren’t the fountains working? Why put in expensive beautiful fountains and not run them? Will anyone go there after Nov 1? This summer it was so putrid with sewer smell you could hardly stand to sit outside at the restaurant, or be around the area. I love the idea of concerts at both areas, and Wildfire is a great thing, (will it be sporadic as it was in the past?) These are good ideas, seems there needs more marketing. Perhaps an ice rink at Columbua Commons could be a good thing in the winter. Make a winter wonderland. Turn on the fountains.