by Dan Smith
Once more the city fathers of Daytona Beach have been hard at work trying to make the town more presentable to the tourists.
A lot of money was spent on yet another study that yielded no worthwhile practical results. That would be keeping with a long tradition.
Some of you faithful readers will remember that a year or so ago I came up with my own plan. My idea was for the city to create a warm-water habitat to attract manatees to the canal that separates the mainland from City Island. To my way of thinking having sea cows swimming about just off Beach Street would be a natural tourist draw. Of course, that was too simple a plan for the think tank that runs the city.
The only ones to respond to that column were you the readers of Hometown News. Quite a few of you wrote me to say that my plan was the only worthwhile one yet presented. A couple more wrote supporting rants that were published by our editors.
The latest idea to come along is for the city to try and force landlords to bring their rental properties up to code. While that may be a good idea in theory, the reality is that won't improve the looks of the place much at all.
Let me try out one more plan on you. How about pastels? That's right, why not paint all of those ratty looking old rentals with a nice soft yellow, peach, lime or blue? There is just something about warm pastel colors with the window trim and picket fences in white that summons up visions of the tropics. That look is what northern visitors really hope to find in Florida. They need to know right away they have come to a place completely different than their neighborhoods of brown, brick houses.
Let's face it, most of the houses, buildings, motels and hotels on the beachside are dowdy and drab. Everyone agrees those places need a facelift, but they are private properties and that can be very expensive.
While not much can be done to force a landlord to do major construction, a tasteful coat of paint may not be too much to ask. If the city was to take the money they constantly blow on those studies and buy some paint, a huge facelift could begin.
Oh sure, some other incentive may have to be used to get all to comply but can you imagine driving over one of our high bridges and looking eastward at a sea of beautiful pastels. What a vista that would be!
The houses and hotels could remain pretty much as they are now, but the city could dictate alternating colors as they give out the paint. If you don't think that would work I direct you to the Coquina Key subdivision near the Volusia-Flagler county line on A1A.
In the Florida panhandle, the little town of Seaside has been awash in pastels for the past 30 years. Since the paint was added the property values have soared. Through the years Seaside has been written up in all of the major magazines and travel books. Perception is everything, and I truly believe something as simple as pastel paints could change the entire beachside landscape.
If you wanted to take it a step further, the crummy aluminum chairs on the porches could be replaced by nice wooden Adirondack chairs and the rusty chain link fences with nice white, wooden picket fences.
All right, I know I am dreaming, but wouldn't it be so much more pleasant to the eye to see an old house in peach and white rather than the cold winter colors of brown or dirty white? Visitors who come over the bridges and are met with a sea of pastels would immediately be reminded of the islands where those colors prevail.
Understand, I love the place where we live, but I just think we could do better. Manatees swimming downtown surrounded by pastel buildings might present a more eye-pleasing experience for visitors and locals.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, "The World's Greatest Beach" and "I Swear the Snook Drowned." Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (386) 441-7793.