The only thing I don’t want in my backyard is a NIMBY. For the uninitiated, a Nimby is someone who doesn’t want something in their “backyard”. With the exception of parking, and that because parking is nothing and not something, I can think of nothing that I don’t want in my urban backyard. In the quarter century I’ve lived downtown I’ve advocated for everything from a prison to a rap club. If its legal to do it, and somebody wants to do it, I want them to do it around me.
In the case of the prison which was proposed for an (unfortunately) underutilized industrial park, I felt that, if it needed to be somewhere, the city was the best place for it. Had the prison been built in the downtown and not on a greenfield in Ludlow the state would be spending quite a bit less to transport prisoners from the jail to court, not only that but loved ones wishing to visit inmates, a disproportionate number of which are poor, would be able to use the many public transit options centered in the downtown.
In the case of the rap club, I happened to be working with a downtown development organization and they went into a panic at the thought of welcoming young minorities to the downtown. They found reasons (centered around “parking concerns”) to oppose an activity which would bring people to the downtown because of the class of people it would bring downtown. I thought it was a good idea, and I still think, given the ever increasing numbers of minorities in the city, that the city can only succeed if they succeed. The space which was never opened as a club became a pornographic video store complete with booths for private screenings of films; tissues and lotion included!
Nimbyism is the litmus test for an urban dweller, if you’re a nimby, you don’t understand the city. The suburbanite wants nothing near him and it makes perfect sense. For suburbanites “distance” is measured by time spent in an automobile, and two miles can represent a shorter distance than two blocks if traffic and road conditions are right. “More” in close proximity to his home, his school, anything, can actually increase his effective distance from the places he visits on a regular basis. When you live in a city “more” not only reduces the distance to whatever it is that’s being brought in but, given the nature of pedestrian traffic, does nothing to negatively impact travel time to whatever else was already there. In a city more means more, In a suburb more means less.What could make any clearer the perversity of suburban development?
So, if we’re going to have casinos in western Massachusetts, lets have it right here in the downtown. The more uses the casino brings with it the better. The more it can be integrated with all that we already have here the better.