Good Morning: The Price of the Past

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Michael Hutchins

What is the price of keeping the past alive, and is it worth that cost? This is a question that Denison leaders are asking themselves as they weight the future of downtown's telltale features.

Last week, I wrote an article about Denison's efforts to try and protect the few remaining red brick roads in downtown. It will be a difficult decision for the new committee and I do not envy the people who will weigh the options.

When I heard about the new committee, I was reminded of the hard decision leaders had to make about four years ago when Chestnut was in need of repairs. Ultimately, they were removed and replaced with a more modern roadway.

Denison's red brick roads may bring a certain look and appeal to the city's core, but they also bring a significant cost and maintenance. At the time, city leaders said that cost was simply too much.

I remember some of the conversations at the time about preserving Chestnut, and it felt like there were two real camps: those that wanted to keep a hold of the past and those who wanted to modernize the road and bring it into the 21st Century.

As someone who drove it regularly, I will be the first to say that Chestnut was a rough road to drive. Some of the existing roads are just as rough, if not worse. It will not be cheap to bring these roads back into good repair, but that is the cost to keep them.

The members of that committee will have to play a balancing act of weighing the importance of the brick roads in Denison's history, culture and identity versus the cost and other impacts it will have.

It is that question that filled my mind over the weekend. Do the brick streets need to continue if they are to be a part of the city's culture and heritage? Once again, that is a question the committee will have to wrestle.