"Pioneer Square Inc" is considering closing a large section of the square for fifteen weeks each year to put in a skating rink. Advocates are trying to elicit "Norman Rockwell-like" imagery to evoke a sense of nostalgia for simple times that never were. Bottom line: they want to draw more people into the area to shop! Never mind that this place is one of the very few squares of its kind in the nation..a place where people can gather in a democractic fashion and speak to their fellow Portlanders. Adding a $6.50 charge immediately sets up barriers. Will cops start tossing people who don't have cash in hand?
I am I over-reacting here? It just smells so commercial to me. Next thing you know, the whole square is gone and another (shudder) Lloyd Center is in the middle of downtown.
The square is a unique refuge and gathering place for a remarkable cross-section of city dwellers. I take great pleasure in simple people watching, and, when times are right, gathering to speak as a powerful collective. The rink seems to me to be a first step towards eliminating locales for public forums.
I recognize that the rink would only be around for a few months...but it opens the door for a host of development possibilities. Might the powers that be not ultimately decide that it would be more profitable to have year-round rides? Then they could charge people just to get in.
I am proud to live in Portland, and I want to defend the basic conditions that make it a more democratic, livable city than most.
I am curious to know what others think.