From coverage of last night’s Project DeRenne concept unveiling last night provided by WSAV, WTOC and the Savannah Morning News, you might get the idea that the mood in room was particularly contentious. I didn’t get that impression. And I was sitting a couple chairs away from a local business owner, who rose during the question and answer session and demanded to know why she felt everything had already been decided. She asked why she was distrustful.
Tough questions. Explaining to a person why they feel a certain way is difficult. Naturally, reporters were lining up to talk with her afterward. Other questions centered on how the project would be funded and if “government money” would be necessary to realize some of the impressive developments depicted in drawings. Another good question.
This kind of skepticism is understandable. When you are looking at one of the most dysfunctional streets in the city, which is edged by some very shabby commercial properties, it’s difficult to imagine a safe, attractive street that’s framed by architecturally distinctive buildings and even parks and monuments. When you have an area that most people want to escape as soon as possible, it takes some imagination to think of it as a destination. Yet getting past what it is to what it could be is the type of mental exercise that will be necessary to transform DeRenne Avenue from a community liability to a civic amenity. Savannah deserves more great places. DeRenne could be one.
Materials presented at last night’s meeting will become available on the Project DeRenne Web site in the coming days.