There comes a time in the life of every journalist when she must cast off irony, skepticism and cynicism and praise good works where they live, even if that should be some place deep inside municipal bureaucracy. For me, this is the moment. I hope our beleaguered civil servants and elected representatives in City Hall don’t collapse with shock when they read this, but I like the new bricks. In fact, I like the whole dang project. And if saying so means I’ve forfeited future invitations from the Negative Reflex Society or Scoffers United, then my unbroken high heels and I will live with that.
More after the picture.
I admit that the expanses of fresh brick have sent me to the deep recesses of my closet to reclaim the kitten heels, slingbacks, stilettos and other ankle-breakers that I had long relegated to Fancy Affairs Nowhere Within Sight of the Mall. I personally like knowing that I’ll be seeing less of my cobbler in the future. Mock, if you must, and you can stop reading here if you need to. But hear me: High heels are, in the end, the least of it when it comes to endorsing the rebricking. (And I bet there are plenty of Floresheim-shod gentlemen who like the new look and feel of the Mall.)
Rather, this is the heart of my case: Any town that declares itself a promoter of the pedestrian lifestyle should make walking easier and nicer. Thirty years later, the Mall, the token of Charlottesville’s Pedestrian Myth, is overdue for a makeover. On the level of symbols alone, never mind orthopedics, the citizenry should be insistent on this point. Moreover, the Mall, more so than the House on the Hill, embodies democracy. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, can and does use the Mall. When the Vietnam Vet limited to a rusty wheelchair and the Ugged patron of the fancy paper store can occupy the same block without stress, you’re in the Republic of One and All. Finally, with the rebricking, we have a public works project that serves the entire public.
And to those who bitch about the cost, the $7.5 million that you assume could be spent more wisely some other way, I say, you’re right; government can be wasteful. In consideration of that, click here to review this year’s budget for the City of Charlottesville. I’ll bet my new aubergine pumps that you can find something else to bitch about.