I've checked out the News-Leader already. I read the story about Randy D. Sloan's nudity and how his Attorney defends (the) case('s) dismissal. This hasn't been a story I had been following very closely. Beyond listening to Vincent David Jericho's Podcast of his interview with Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore, and sharing a few emails with a fellow blogger friend about it. I think my blogger friend is probably right in his thinking there is more to the story than the original knee-jerk reaction. In cases like this I prefer to see what the courts decide, but certainly there's no denying that a man should not be nude on his front porch around school children, any school children, elementary or otherwise, in fact, a man just shouldn't be nude on his front porch at all.
I noticed that Ron Paul supporters were characterized as cult followers in the leed of another story:
"Ron Paul, the Texas Republican with a cult-like following, will be in Branson on Friday for a 7 p.m. "freedom rally" at the Tri-Lakes Center, according to the schedule on his campaign Web site."
Some Ron Paul supporters may be cult-like in their following of Paul, just as some Obama supporters seem to be cult-like in their following of Obama, but those who don't follow Paul in a cult-like trance will probably be greatly offended by such a blanket statement. I know a few Paul supporters, and no, I'm not among their number, who will feel mischaracterized by that leed, and rightfully so.
The first story I read this morning, however, was Focus now on square perimeter. It was a fair story, not all of the stories and information about the square have been balanced, offering both sides of the issue. There has been an agenda.
At any rate, after writing my own story regarding the provenance of Park Central Square, Square Sinks into Controversy, for the May 7 issue of CFP Midweek, in which I simply tried to present a balanced article on the issue, and, since I have been following this issue closely,I decided it's an appropriate time to share my opinion, if anyone is interested in reading about it.
The first time I saw Butler Rosenbury & Partners proposed design plan for renovations on Park Central Square was at a City Council luncheon, held at Springfield/Branson National Airport. At the time I thought some of the ideas were very nice but my own concerns were addressed by Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky's query about whether the $1 million promised to be spent on the square renovation would cover all the costs of the many beautiful features Tim Rosenbury had presented. The answer was no, but Rosenbury assured the Council he wouldn't bring something to Council for approval without fleshing out some ideas on how it could be financed and it could be done in phases. So, okay.
Later, I don't even remember the date, Rosenbury showed his presentation at another Council luncheon, you'll find that presentation here. I thought it was great, I really liked it.
Mrs. Ruth Kelley addressed the Council the day Rosenbury presented the final proposed design, at that luncheon. It was shortly after her letter appeared in the News-Leader, (since gone to archive at the News-Leader website, but can still be read here, at The Cultural Landscape Foundation's website).
While I really liked Ruth Kelley's letter, and had even made it a recommended reading at this blog, at that time I was of a mind that if the city just saved Halprin's fountain that would be enough.
Really, at that point, I didn't care that much and thought it was a good idea to renovate the square, I did like the existing square and thought it could have been restored using less money, but I was willing to go along. After all, it was part of the Heer's agreement with McGowan, so it's not like citizens had any choice about whether the money was going to be spent or not and Rosenbury touted there'd been over 750 people to weigh in on the design criteria, on what they'd like to see happen with the square.
By the time the special council meeting was called and the Council approved the design concept I had a little better understanding of who Lawrence Halprin was and I had begun to start having misgivings about the wisdom of paving over (how else would the city level the existing sunken plaza?) Halprin's work. I was thinking, "this could be a great boon to Springfield, this could put us on the map, think of the eclectic, artsy types who might plan their vacations around famous landscape sites, think of how Springfield could promote this! Doesn't Springfield like to think of itself as an artist's mecca? Don't we have First Friday Artwalk Events?"
Yes, I had begun to become a Lawrence Halprin fan and I was also becoming very concerned that the rest of Springfield's citizenry hadn't been properly educated on the provenance of the square and without proper education on what we have, how could an educated decision be made about what we want?
At the February 12, special called, Tuesday morning Council meeting, where the majority of Council approved Rosenbury's design, my opinion is that there was a rush to approve the proposal. I'm not sure how anyone could argue otherwise. The Council's discussion of an email received from Kevin McGowan of Blue Urban, the developer of the Heer's Tower, indicated McGowan was putting some pressure on Council and the Council was very mindful of the August 1 deadline the City had agreed to under contract with McGowan. The contract gave McGowan the option of forcing the city to buy back the Heer's Tower if construction on renovation of the square wasn't begun by that August 1 deadline.
I've silently noted that there are some who would like to characterize those concerned about the provenance of the square as being "obstructionists" against what the majority of Springfieldians want downtown but believing the citizens of Springfield weren't properly apprised of the provenance of that square and the status of Lawrence Halprin's designs while considering what they wanted on the square, I believe that is an unfair characterization. I also noted that someone cast a bit of aspersion on my identification of Partner for Public Spaces as BRP's programming "partner" at another blog, enclosing "partner" in quotation marks, but, for the sake of clarification on that matter, I got that identifier straight out of the mouth of Tim Rosenbury, himself, so I felt very comfortable in using it. That was how Rosenbury described Partner for Public Spaces at the special February 12 Council meeting.
Now, the question in my mind is how could anyone not be exited and thrilled that our public square, Park Central Square, was designed by a famous landscape architect, a world renowned landscape architect!? How can this be considered a bad thing, an awful development!? Why wouldn't ALL of Springfield celebrate such a thing? It makes no sense to me.
I'm ecstatic, yes, I'm celebrating the fact that Lawrence Halprin designed our square and that it has been deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Now all of Springfield knows it. Now real discussions can begin on how to preserve the wonderful asset Springfield has! This is a good thing, how can it be a bad thing? I would also think that every business owner downtown, including Kevin McGowan, would be ecstatic over this wonderful, fantastic news!
Stuart Soloman began the discussion in the May 21 issue of Community Free Press. Be sure and catch his column, "Looking Back to Move Forward," page 7.
Let's look back at what we have, what was planned by Halprin and not implemented, what was lost over the years of the original design (for instance, originally there were stone benches in the park instead of the ugly multiple coated green ones there now, where are those stone benches today?) and then lets move forward and celebrate this fantastic news. We all want what is best for Springfield. It wasn't in the best interest of Springfield to let Park Central Square run down, what about using some money to maintain what we have instead of building things only to let them deteriorate and run down and then bulldoze them under and start over? That would be a good discussion topic for another blog.
Note: I also meant to include another opinion: I, personally, believe Butler Rosenbury & Partners made every effort to point out to the city of Springfield that Lawrence Halprin was a landscape architect of note. The design firm even showed a film spotlighting another Halprin designed park in Oregon. According to Tim Rosenbury, there just wasn't much interest in the provenance of the square on the part of the city.
I had a lovely discussion with Tim Rosenbury back in February and found him to be very forthcoming, honest and direct in responding to my questions and wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that I feel he played a role in dismissing Halprin's relevance. BRP was contracted by the city to offer a design proposal on Park Central Square and, after informing the city of the potential relevance of Halprin's design, he concluded the city had little interest in it and so, he did his job. The design firm of Butler Rosenbury & Partners presented what the city of Springfield had contracted them to present and their firm simply tried their best to please their client.