A little foresight would have been better than trying to save the debris


Fred Arnold Telescope publisher

It’s very interesting to me how when it comes to the “Republic Hotel Block” that the experts are now coming out of the woodwork. With the series of building that once were: The Republic Hotel, The Print Shop, JC Penney and Coast To Coast now nothing more than a pile of rubble, people are stepping up offering view on what should be done with the left overs.

Some of the more creative things we’ve heard include: saving the bricks to make a memorial wall to commemorate the historical significance of the location; putting pavers into the street to replace the fake cement bricks; using them to construct a sidewalk in one of our parks and use of the limestone as a front to a new building on the site.

These are all good ideas I am sure. But honestly it’s a little late in the game to be thinking what could have been or should have been done with the leftovers from the razed location.

Truth of the matter is I am sure there is an erosion ditch, private driveway or some other property that will likely become the benefactor of most of that material.

I do appreciate people taking the time to get involved and making their thoughts known. There is no such thing as a bad idea. It’s just too bad that this involvement didn’t come several years sooner. If the community had voiced their concern over the “what ifs” of these downtown buildings in the past, perhaps we wouldn’t have had to wonder what to do with the rubble now.

I’ve seen it firsthand time and again over the decades. People don’t get riled up about losing something until what ever the catalyst is is too far gone to save or already gone, as is the case in our downtown.

The vacant downtown block that we now have, which is a good thing by the way, should also serve as a wake up call for the rest of our downtown.

There are plenty more commercial buildings in Belleville that really aren’t that far behind where the Republic Hotel was just a few short years ago. Absentee owners and neglect are right in front of our faces.

The City of Belleville is currently working on an ordinance to deal with the upkeep of commercial buildings. And that is a good thing.

Local residents really need to wake up, be aware and get involved, if they are indeed that passionate about community projects and the like, about what can happen to other buildings if they are allowed to continue in a state of decay.

I don’t want to be having more discussions about making roads, walls and other municipal projects out of buildings going forward.