City like the ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’
Last week I was re-reading Alice in Wonderland (yes, the requisite child was present), when I was struck with how many of the events depicted in the story present strong parallels to my experience in Savannah over the last decade.
The “Mad Hatters Tea Party” in particular stood out. Remember that these characters did no maintenance or clean-up — “clean plates move down.”
It seems every time I pick-up this newspaper, I read a new story about how the city is faced with tough choices because they do not have enough money to fund the vast new public works projects the Council is constantly talking about.
Meanwhile, I learn that the Property Maintenance, Parks and Trees and even the Department(s) which mow the lawns and clean out the canals and drains in Savannah’s public spaces are under-staffed and under-funded.
A large part of the chronically neglected infrastructure/upkeep issues are located within neighborhoods which were annexed in the decades of the 1950s-80s. I understand that “prominent citizens” will not be able to put up a plaque memorializing their contributions to attractive well kept neighborhoods or clean, flood-free streets — but the efforts of the above named city departments are second only to the efforts of Metro police in establishing and maintaining the quality of life in our neighborhoods. I believe that most of these large projects, which I have read about, will add substantially to the workload of these departments and our history teaches us that they will not be given the required additional funding.
I very much agree with the gist of recent comments from City Manager Rob Fernandez — (to paraphrase) — Savannah must establish a short list of manageable priorities and stick with them. Before we undertake any vast new public works projects we must look to keeping-up the quality of the lovely and elegant neighborhoods we have inherited and built over the last several hundred years. The alternative is Philadelphia or Baltimore or any number of other cities, which have focused on building new, new, new while neglecting the existing neighborhoods, which were responsible for their unique character. As a result no one wanted to live in these neglected areas and property values crashed and many of them look like they were carpet bombed.
I love Savannah; I do not want to live in those other cities.
Paradise Park/Oakhurst Neighborhood Association
I was sad to hear and to read about the closing of The Florence — but not at all surprised.
Because we live in the neighborhood, we truly wished this Hugh Acheson restaurant a long and prosperous existence, but from the moment we first started visiting Savannah three years ago, it always seemed doomed to close for a variety of reasons.
Perhaps overlooked in the postmortem will be what really was the restaurant’s main issue. Sure, the portions were small and the prices were high, as was to be expected with the name attached to the establishment, but the quality of the food was undeniable. The pizza may well have been the best in the city. Lord knows small portions and high prices are not enough to conspire to kill a restaurant, as evidenced by so many survivors in the fickle Savannah culinary scene.
What hurt The Florence more than anything was its frontage. Unlike Atlantic, Elizabeth’s, and so many other (lesser) eating venues in the Starland-Victory area, The Florence’s monolithic facade gave no impression that a handsome restaurant was right there. Had the original architect’s designs called for removing a portion of that wall along Victory to create a raised patio a few steps above the sidewalk and a noticeable entryway, there is no telling what might have been. Imagine that same space with a wall of glass along Victory — something to entice the “see-and-be-seen” crowd and enable them to be, well, seen.
Oh — and the parking. Somehow, reconfiguring an entrance to an actual parking lot on the east end of the building would have helped matters, too.
Again, I am disappointed to see the best pizza in the city go, not to mention a place so close to our address, and it is a shame that a ‘flaw’ in the physical space is more to blame than perhaps any other factor in its demise.
NEIL W. GABBEY
Father’s Day, Phil Mickelson style
Phil Mickelson was not the winner of the 2017 U.S. Open Golf Tournament this year, again. Instead, he withdrew from the tournament to attend the high school graduation of his daughter Amanda, and at which she will also, as class president address her fellow students, faculty and families. Most golfers know that this title, the U.S. Open, is the only one that still eludes him after a record six times. Earlier in his career, despite demonstrated great prowess as a player, some sports journalists questioned if he had the mettle to withstand the heat of a tight finish in a major championship. His close finishes were famous.
One was the time he came in second to Paine Stewart in the 1999 U.S. Open. But what happened moments after the final shot on the 18th green was, for me, one of the finest moments in golf that I have witnessed. Paine approached Phil, still stunned from his loss, and before the cameras and the golfing world, grasped Phil with both hands on either side of his head, reassuring him, essentially that “you will win this tournament someday” but you are about to be a father and you will see how much greater that is than winning a tournament.”
Phil took those words and that moment to heart. And so, Phil has shown his metal in winning tournaments and three majors since then, but he has demonstrated his true values by putting himself at the side of his wife and children in their times of need as well as marking passages and celebrations in their life as a family and individuals.
WAYNE H. WELCH