Daily Archives: August 2, 2008

Patriots Park laser structure coming down

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — Work to dismantle downtown Phoenix’s laser begins today, with hardly a soul to lament its demise.  When the steel spider of a structure was built in 1986, it was billed as Phoenix’s answer to the Eiffel Tower.  It operated for less than a year before its lasers were turned off for good.  Now, the laser and Patriots Square, where it was situated, are being torn down to make room for CityScape, a huge, mixed-use project stretching from First Avenue to Second Street between Washington and Jefferson streets.  Dismantling the structure will take three weeks.  “I am not shedding any tears over it,” said Attorney General Terry Goddard, who was mayor at the time the laser was installed.  “The concept was noble, but frankly, it never worked.”

The laser was the brainchild of architect Ted Alexander, and it captured the imagination of at least some people at the beginning, in the mid-’80s.  Patriots Square was being rebuilt to include underground parking, and a contract for design of the park went to Alexander.  In an early story in the Phoenix Gazette, Alexander said the laser would give the city “a town square that is unequaled anywhere in the country.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

With Joel Nilsson’s retirement, neighborhoods lose voice at Arizona Republic

[Source: Alexander Tauber, “Letter to the Editor,” Arizona Republic] — This week marked editorial writer Joel Nilsson’s last at The Arizona Republic.  His colleagues will forever retell stories of how this editorial writer helped set the agenda for our state by advocating to preserve our open spaces, to protect our neighborhoods, to properly develop our cities, and to hold our politicians accountable.  Those who were closest to him at The Republic will miss Joel’s integrity and ability to stop, focus on what is important, and get to the root of the issues.

Today, the politicians will breathe a sigh of relief because Joel was a man of depth and principle who could never be bullied (even by The Donald).  Today, with Joel’s retirement, I lose a role model.  I am neither a colleague nor a politician.  I am an Arizonan and Phoenix resident.  Joel gave me a voice and taught me to never give up for what I feel is right.  The first time I met Joel, I was surprised that he, along with the Editorial Board, would meet someone who was not connected, did not have a recognizable last name, and was not part of the “political establishment.”  Along with some neighbors, we had an issue that was important to us, and Joel wanted to hear it…and, eventually, Joel felt our position was a right one and he gave us a voice and became an advocate.  That voice brought responsibility and only prompted me to care even more about what happens in Arizona.

I sincerely hope The Republic recognizes the intangible goodwill created by Joel and his colleagues at the Editorial Board.  They help set the agenda for our state and our cities.  While this impact cannot be measured in its balance sheet, it can be measured in the community that it serves.  Herein lies a true competitive advantage.

Today, it is easy for me to feel that Arizona is losing a little piece of its soul.  However, Joel changed me in a little way, and I don’t have to believe that he will be gone.  Instead, I choose to think that we were all blessed to have his train stop at our station for a while, albeit too briefly (31 years at The Republic).  Joel alighted, freely distributing his many gifts, enriching us all in unique ways and has now re-boarded, headed for another destination, his ideals, soul, and principles very much alive.  Joel Nilsson, godspeed on your next endeavor and, whatever it is, please don’t loosen the tight embrace with which you have cared for Arizona and Phoenix.

Editor’s note: Alex, thank you for writing such splendid words about our friend and colleague.  Know that we do recognize what a force for good Joel has been in this community.  Like you, we will dearly miss him.

OW! WhO’s at 149 W. McDOWell? WillO or WillOW?

Recently, signs were hung in the windows of the former Willow House stating, “Opening Soon, Willo House Coffee Shop & Deli, New Owner.”  The Willow House (formerly at 149 W. McDowell, but now at 1722 W. Van Buren) is not to be confused with the new Willo House, soon to open at 149 W. McDowell. 

Talk at this online discussion board debates the ethics of naming the new business so close to the former establishment’s name versus having one more venue downtown in which to sip coffee, relax, and debate the big issues of the day, like names of coffee shops!