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Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

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Random Thoughts: More cultural stuff? Not so fast...

Robert Downes - November 9th, 2009
Random Thoughts:More cultural stuff? Not so fast...
Robert Downes 11/9/09

The big entertainment news in Traverse City this month involves the possibility of East Lansing’s Wharton Center of Performing Arts taking over the management of our City Opera House.
Drawing on the creative power and resources of Michigan State University, the Wharton Center earns rave reviews from theater-goers for bringing Broadway
musicals such as Wicked to East Lansing, along with dozens of musical acts and comedians each year.
It sounds like a slam-dunk good idea when you look at their roster of upcoming performances by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff
Foxworthy, Wilco and The Lion King. Negotiations are underway to see what Wharton can do for the City Opera House, with a proposal to be presented to the TC City Commission later this month.
Still, the philistine in me says we should think this over, lest we “toss the baby with the bathwater.”
The City Opera House is still struggling to pay off the debt on its $8.5 million renovation -- a project which was supported by community fundraising efforts. One might think that this is all the more reason to hand off its management to the pros in East Lansing, right?
Well, maybe. But before Traverse City takes the bait, it would be nice to know whether acts such as Jerry Seinfeld, Wilco and The Lion King would actually make the trip up here to Tiny Town to perform in our 730-seat opera house. And at what cost?
By contrast, the Cobb Great Hall at the Wharton Center in East Lansing seats 2,500 people. Wharton’s Concert Auditorium seats 3,763. And chances are, you couldn‘t stage a credible Broadway production at our opera house on par with Wicked; that sort of thing requires a specially-designed theater with trapdoors, a fly space, and actors whizzing around on cables and such.
It seems more likely that Traverse City would get the “lesser” acts with a high-culture bent, which we already have in spades at Interlochen and the Dennos Museum Center.
Acts like the Shaolin Warriors, Itzhak Perlman, The Nutcracker, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas musical, and the Moscow Festival Ballet’s production of Coppelia. Ho-hum... Zzzz...
Excuse me for falling asleep here, but those acts -- which are on Wharton’s roster for the next few months -- are the exact same snoozy fare we‘ve come to expect from Interlochen during the “off” season. Been there, done that, seen ’em all a dozen times.
They are worthy acts, and they have their place (at Interlochen), but are they what Traverse
City needs to inject a lively sense of energy and excitement
downtown?
Currently, there’s a huge controversy about the recent
Umphrey’s McGee jam band show that was held at the opera house a few weeks ago. The concert-goers scuffed up the floor with their dancing and some of them were reportedly overserved. But no arrests were made and the show was widely regarded as the “best” of the year by opinion-makers in this town.
That show from Porterhouse Productions also brought more than 700 young adult professionals downtown, filling restaurants, stores and nightclubs. For the moment, at least, TC really was the sort of “Cool City” that our state aspires to.
You know: a city that is so cool and compelling that it attracts new businesses, young professionals and jobs, generating a lively downtown and a great place to live.
Those young adults in their early 20s are the future of our downtown and of the City Opera House. It would be a grave mistake to turn that crowd away simply to facilitate a management contract, because brother, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas isn‘t going to cut it with the people who are shaping Northern Michigan’s future.

 
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