In September we posted on a Eugene Register-Guard article noting the number of larger strip clubs in Springfield than in neighboring, and much larger, Eugene, a piece speculating on how the cities’ different histories and social attitudes may have led to the disparity.
A guest op in the R-G today carries some of that forward, in the current debate over a proposal to open a new strip club in the downtown area.
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Twenty years ago, The Register-Guard published an article with a headline that was something like “100 Best Things About Springfield,” and one of the highlights was “the real blue- collar bars downtown.” Ten years ago, maybe only five years ago, Dugger could have opened Shaker’s downtown and there would have been little outcry. What’s changed is that many in Springfield now have higher expectations of what they want their downtown to be.
They want to take families downtown after dark and feel safe anywhere from 10th Street to the Willamette River. They want nice places to shop and eat. They want to see their Academy of Arts & Academics students in a play at the Wildish Theater and get a fudge sundae after the show. They want to visit the Springfield Museum or take in an exhibit at the Emerald Art Center and have a nice glass of wine before or after. They want well-lighted streets with windowed storefronts to see what’s going on inside.
They don’t want to feel as though they have to cross the street to avoid a long, dark, uninviting block or a cluster of unsavory characters.
Dugger’s plans may have fit in the old downtown Springfield, but not in the new one — and that’s why so many showed up at the City Council meeting. To him, this is about his right to make a living with a legal strip club; to many others, this is about whose downtown it is and what kind of businesses they want to see there.