Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Changing Face of Grand Avenue

Godspeed to Doug and Suzan Scott, who left for South Africa this past week to begin the process of becoming full-time missionaries there. Suzan is one of the first people I met outside of work when I moved here who took the time to strike up a conversation. I met her at a booth at one of those spring art festivals Downtown, selling jewelry and clothing that she had made.

Suzan and I worked across the street from one another for a few years, when she worked for the state Department of Local Affairs. Most recently she worked at Mesa State, first in the tutoring office and then in the library. Her husband Doug worked for District 51 in maintenance, but also ran the Scott Real Estate Agency with his late father. They have a grown daughter, married with a small child in the Washington DC area.

Doug and Suzan belong to First Assembly of God in Grand Junction. I would venture that one of the last few things Doug did for the church was to list it for sale. Judging from the absence of real estate signs, I'm guessing that the sale has been completed and the church has the funds to complete construction of its' new home on Highway 6 & 50 near 21 Road.

I had been fantasizing about what could be the best use of that entire city block in the middle of Downtown, with its' natural quick access to primary roadways in both directions and proximity to the seats of City and County government. Of course much of this was self-serving; how about a public safety center, containing a new Police Headquarters, Fire Station, and Communications Center? Well, it was nice while it lasted in my head.

My guess is that whatever commercial and/or residential development being considered for the property will considerably alter the physical and functional dynamic of the area. The property currently attracts considerable attention only when there are church functions, primarily in the evenings and on weekends. That will likely not be the case anymore. The City leased some of the parking spaces for employees during the week; the eventual loss of those spaces will be made up by the new garage at 4th and Rood.

Whenever the City's Community Development Department gets the application from whomever has purchased the property (the County Assessor's database still shows it as belonging to the church), careful consideration will need to be given to the inevitable increase in traffic and parking needs, as well as the impact on residential areas north of the property. Best wishes to everyone involved for an approval process that equitably addresses the needs of all stakeholders, including those of us who call the Historic Downtown Neighborhood home.

This of course isn't the only place along Grand where new development could potentially occur. The vacant northeast corner of 6th and Grand is a possibility, as is the property currently owned by the Library District, purchased presumably for planned expansion, which is awaiting a majority of the electorate to gain vision. The southwest corner of 4th and Grand, a former drive-thru bank that is currently unused, is also a ripe corner for something new to happen.

One item on the front page of this past Friday's Rocky Mountain News also raised some remote possibilities. The story involves the Diocese of Pueblo and a dispute with one of its' insurers over some of the claims filed against the Diocese for sexual abuse by a priest in Pueblo during the late 60's and early 70's.

The insurer is trying to assert that it is not liable for the claims, and if their suit is successful the Diocese may be directly liable for millions. The attorney for the plaintiffs has stated that they will go after church property if necessary. This could include some of the St. Joseph's Church property at 3rd and Grand, such as the vacant lot left by the demolition of the old school that was destroyed by fire last winter.

Change and transition are inevitable, whether it is life changes such as Doug and Suzan feel called to undertake, or the changes at their church that calls them to relocate, and the opportunities for development that have resulted from that calling. The re-development of the First Assembly property will set the tone for the continued re-inventing of Grand Avenue as well as Downtown Grand Junction, but as with all development that benefits a community it must be underaken with careful consideration as to impact and appropriate use for the surrounding area.

The property owner and developer, in conjunction with City government, will hopefully recognize and abide by these responsibilities. The Downtown Association and Downtown Development Authority, whose northern boundary is Ouray Avenue, need to take stock of the residential areas just north of that boundary, and help to assure that whatever is built at First Assembly does not damage the quality of life of those nearby residences. Hopefully the lessons learned by my neighborhood in dealing with Bourbon Street will not have to be taught again.

In the meantime, my best wishes and prayers to Doug and Suzan for success in your mission, as well as safe travel and relocation.

Today Jan and I mark 18 years of marriage with a quiet Sunday afternoon peppered with small chores, football, laundry, and some writing and conversation. We'll have a weekend away somewhere this month, and I'll take her out to dinner wherever she would like to go. Basically I'll do whatever I can to make sure she is comfortable and cared for, in hopes that she will continue to feel well and make improvement.

Our marriage has not been perfect, but it's been good. The last few years have shown us that there are much bigger things to concern ourselves with than most things that couples typically disagree about. I'm reminded of the scene in Doctor Zhivago when Yuri, Tonya, Sasha and Tonya's father are forced to take refuge in the small cottage in the Urals after fleeing Moscow. The father says to them, "I wouldn't be surprised if you look back on this time as one of your best".


Much press was made over the response of the Amish community in rural east central Pennsylvania to the West Nickel Mines school tragedy. Some of my colleagues expressed disbelief at the tradition of forgiveness and helping one's fellow man that is woven into Amish culture. There was a good op-ed piece in today's Philadelphia Inquirer that succintly explained the background and history involved.

The New York Daily News used the headline "Amazing Grace" for their coverage of the issue, and they didn't mean Nancy. You won't find any mention of the Amish story on the CNN Headline News spit-and-venom hostess' website, or any other example of forgiveness or understanding for that matter. Nancy Grace and those like her forward the misguided idea that our justice system can provide closure and healing to those victimized by crime.

The approach of the Amish and many others to these situations is indicative of a basic, fundamental truth of our existence; how we endure bad times and circumstances is directly related to God's grace and mercy, as reflected in the sacrifice of his Son and our collective outward actions as a community confirming the peace we hold within us.

May you find peace and forgiveness in your life this week, and may you find the grace to pass some along to others.

1 comment:

sally said...

It never ceases to amaze me how this world can be both so beautiful and so cruel. I am firmly convinced that God created our minds to be finite ON PURPOSE because we could never comprehend the reasons behind some of the horror. While being in the midst of personal horror, one will inevitably say to themselves, "why me" and "why is God allowing this to happen to me?" If we stand firm in our faith and belief that God has created each and every one of us and has a plan for us, the truth will reveal itself...eventually. It has taken many years to understand why I have had to go through what I have, some things of my own devices and some not. But situations invariably come up almost on a daily basis in which I can pull from the knowledge of the past to benefit someone else. I have counselled many many people on the healing power of 12 step programs and guided them to seek help for depression. I have been able to guide my beuatiful children down the right paths so as to not make the same mistakes I have. It is through example, not lecturing or punishment that people can begin to see the truth. To be kind in this world should not be the exception but the rule. Mean people suck, and there is no doubt about that. But to shine with the light of our Father on a daily basis can cause even the meanest, most hateful people to change. Even if it is just for a moment. Some people derive great pleasure in bullying or beating others down to the ground. My boss did this to me today (as she has on many occasions because she doesn't have a kind bone in her body!) To be kind is not synonomous with weakness. I have had to be strong for years out of sheer survival. Now I want to be strong because I'm a survivor. I am a survivor because my Father has seen me through tough times in the past and will continue to do so, as long as I allow Him to do so. Since the tender age of 13, I have known of my Father's love. I have strayed at times, as most children do, but have always returned to feel His loving arms around me. So many things about myself I have to KEEP to myself to protect myself from this world and all of the hate. How difficult this is for someone with their foundation on emotion! This is probably why I have so few friends; when one opens their heart, it allows for hurt and pain. I've had enough of that and will not set myself up for that again. But to have a wonderful platonic person in my life again is like a gift from my Father. Thank you being willing to listen.