TEXAS VIEW: Lingering ‘development’ best seen as lesson learned

If you have a good memory, you might still be able to close your eyes and see those artist’s renderings of the proposed Hinsley Crossing retail development, and maybe those showing what the new Hinsley Park was supposed to look like.
The sketches showed an impressive retail center, anchored by a Kroger Marketplace store, other large stores and places for a number of smaller national niche chains. The new park was shown with numerous modern and well-designed amenities.
At this point, it seems the symbolism of “closed eyes” is appropriate to describing the city’s adventure in this project.
The drawings and an aggressive public relations push were enough to convince Longview voters to give necessary approvals for the project — though there were plenty of pockets of opposition. At the time, those people may have been seen by some as being against progress. Uh, no.
Today — some three years later — there is no new retail development and no new park, either. Not only that, not one spade of dirt has been turned and, so far as we can tell, not a single retail establishment has signed on the line to take part in the plans.
It seems we’ve been had.
It isn’t so much that the city has lost anything valuable — the original Hinsley Park remains a park and no public money has been given developers — but our pride has been wounded a bit that we were so easily taken.
The city probably cannot calculate how many work hours were spent dealing with this project when something useful might have been done. That is an “opportunity” cost, though. The waste was time, not money, beyond those related to the ballot proposition to remove the park designation from Hinsley, a step needed to allow the project to begin.
One lesson we hope the city has learned, though, is that any such project must have a timeline. The lack of a schedule has allowed for an indefinite slide that has allowed the project to hang on for years. If some progress had been required, we could have been free of this weight long ago.
As it stands, the supposed developers are still able to tell us the project is soon to start. Sorry, but we simply don’t believe that.
In the beginning the delays were attributed to weather. Later it was difficulty with Kroger as the anchor store, or it was something else, and on and on.
Any day we expect to hear that construction can only begin at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars.
We’ve taken our lumps and can chalk it up to experience. We hope we have learned, and do not get fooled again.