The key word in the Downtown Rockdale Master Plan, which was presented to several agencies last week at a joint meeting in the Patterson Center, is “destination.”
Your destination, of course, is the place you are going. The master plan’s focus is on ways to make downtown Rockdale the destination it once was, or at least head back in that direction.
Even two to three decades ago, downtown Rockdale was the site of a large number of retail businesses. There are still some great business in the six or so blocks centered on, say, the Cameron-Main intersection.
There just aren’t as many as there were, oh 25 years ago.
Old-timers, and some who might only be “middle timers,” can easily remember when downtown had several clothing shops, a large auto dealer, two and even sometimes three grocery stores and much more.
There were even problems in finding a place to park. Rockdale kept putting in, and taking out, parking meters. Wish we still had that “problem.” Those were the days.
But longing for those days won’t help. What will? The master plan suggests appearance might be a first step. Fix sidewalks, improve storefronts, make downtown more attractive. Then what?
Asks the master plan: What’s to prevent Rockdale from recruiting antiques businesses to go with the first-class one that’s already here?
Antiques are unique in that the more there are, the more browsers they are likely to attract and the more business for everyone. Towns that do a really good job of showcasing antiques—think Brenham—still draw good crowds to downtowns.
One appearance problem which is going to need to be addressed before much else happens downtown is what to do with the buildings which were damaged in the Great Wall Collapse of Aug. 29.
Then, let’s go to work on appearances and destinations. The new master plan could be a starting point.—M.B.