Apparently, a primary cause of the problem between downtown residents and those who live anywhere else in the city is contained in the recent article in Metro Pulse, titled "The Mouse Trap." [Shot of Urban by Michael Haynes, March 17, 2011] As one who worked with a Gay Street business for nearly 40 years, I can't disagree with the assessment that many people in Knoxville don't often go downtown anymore. But the comments by your columnist seem to verify the suspicions of some, clearly indicating that he believes that downtown is an exclusive playpen for himself and the other minute percentage of Knoxville's total population now residing in that area, frequently using words such as "we" and "our" to designate downtown as a place he seemingly thinks is now owned by those select few people.
Perhaps it's a big surprise, but there are people who don't care to spend their evenings bending an elbow in crowded surroundings at the increased number of relatively new downtown watering holes, but who nonetheless have every right to visit downtown Knoxville whenever they wish. Precisely who designated his group as the "owners" of downtown? For many, avoiding the area today is essentially because downtown has drastically changed. Except for those nightlife activities, during the daytime hours the numerous retail establishments, multiple movie theaters, reasonably priced eateries, and many other places where thousands once daily flocked to downtown no longer exist. The suggestion that anybody who does not currently live downtown is unwelcome to visit the area, and that if they should occasionally wander into that section they should consider themselves as "guests," is evidence of a prevailing attitude that continues to turn off many people.
Things have changed since the old days, when most downtown folks were friendly and congenial. Incidentally, the statement that local tax dollars have been diverted from downtown to other sections in town is ludicrous, since anyone who has been a resident of Knoxville during the past 25 years or so is very much aware that many, many more millions in taxpayer dollars have been spent downtown during those years than in any other local community, by far. It's still "our" downtown, not "yours," and we've paid through the nose to make an occasional visit to downtown Knoxville, even though downtown dwellers have systematically gobbled up many former surface and parking spaces for their exclusive use.