Visitors come to this part of the world to experience history. I am not advocating Douglas become, like Tombstone, another Cochise County costume party, but judging from the dismal condition of G Avenue and the 35 percent of Douglasites who live in poverty, couldn’t we benefit from more of the 418.6 million dollars that tourists generate annually in Cochise County? Couldn’t we benefit from more of the 4,294 jobs created and sustained by county tourists? (Figures from 2012-13. tourism.az.gov.)
Beneath the streets of Douglas are prohibition day tunnels. Elsewhere, these have become profitable education and entertainment centers. Chapo Guzman’s first tunnel would quickly become a world-wide destination. Douglas played parts in the history of aviation, the Mexican revolution, the life and death of John Slaughter, the PLM (revoltososindouglas.com)… The list goes on, yet the city does nothing to develop a proven profitable resource – its own history.
In spite of historical bounty, Douglas shuns its past. Virtually all shopping in Douglas happens in the chain-store mall west of town. Since the 1970’s, this kind of ‘progress’ has enriched developers while destroying community fabric and identity.
Meanwhile, historic G Avenue crumbles. Is Douglas considering legislation holding landlords accountable for hazardous, unsightly buildings? Are rejuvenation plans underway? Are merchants, entrepreneurs and artists incentivized to re-occupy and revitalize downtown? Are there plans to compete for a larger share of Arizona’s number one industry – tourism?
Former and current residents have called present-day Douglas a ghost town. If it does come back to life, will it be another soul-less strip mall town – this seems to be the city leaders’ choice, whether it is good for the city or not – or will it return to and embrace its roots to blossom into a thriving contemporary version of its once vibrant self?
There is no shortage of things to do and see in Douglas. All it needs, elected or not, are leaders with vision. How do you picture Douglas in five years and how will you help it get there?