Says arts would aid downtown


It seems to me that a re-vitalization of downtown Bellingham is being ignored in favor of large-scale, high-rise, high-profit development along the waterfront. A walk along Cornwall reveals many empty storefronts, gradually turning the potentially gracious street into an urban, mini "ghost town." Merchants are fleeing the area for good reason: insufficient foot traffic to support their business.

One way to re-vitalize the pedestrian activity on Cornwall, between Holly and Magnolia, would be to close it off to vehicle traffic, build a landscaped, strolling promenade with outdoor cafe seating, and create an infusion of cultural facilities -- theaters and art galleries, flanked by restaurants and coffee houses. Many communities have been reborn through the arts; look at Ashland, Ore., and Niagra by the Lake, as well as Stratford in Canada.

Bellis Fair delivered one of the early knockout blows to downtown Bellingham. Years later, the shopping mall began to lose its novelty and appeal. It seems foolhardy to create yet another commercial distraction from the downtown core, which already provides buildings waiting for tenants. Why waste these existing resources? Let us not underestimate the power of the arts, especially live theater, to attract both residents and tourists.

Henry Stein


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