Editor’s note: In the following open letter, Mr. Anderson refers to a notice left on the door of one of his buildings downtown. The front and back are printed here. The name on the bottom of the notice is Single Citizen Action Against Signs of Blight, a self-proclaimed initiative.
Hello, Citizens of Atmore,
Downtown Atmore was once a very vibrant and interesting place to visit, at least according to my late grandmother and father. I contend in the 21st century downtown Atmore still is a great place and holding its own against the modern forces that have closed down many large department stores. The uniqueness of downtown is something only to be captured in a small town. But in a small town it’s not just a matter of the structures but the friendships and relationships built there. I always loved the greeting that Atmore has on the signs coming in: Old Friends and New Beginnings. But recently I had an unpleasant encounter.
My family owns a couple of old store buildings in downtown Atmore. I have a great pride in these buildings and am currently working to get them to a point businesses can re-open there in a prosperous way. This takes time, effort, and, of course, money. Last year my mother and I suffered a major loss; my father passed away. We greatly appreciate the heartwarming condolences.
One day when I was doing a routine check on the buildings, I discovered a note posted to the door of one building. The note basically read “Clean up this mess.” No name or contact information was left, and no offer to help was posted with it. It was entirely meant to be insulting and rude.
Now I’ll admit to one thing: we’ve kept some old décor in the windows for a while now that needs updating, but my mother and I have had much to deal with for a while and our priority has not been on décor. I have had generous offers to assist me in doing something positive with the buildings. As time goes by over the next year I will act on these offers – when my mother and I are ready.
The best way to attract and encourage business is to actually be encouraging. The statement left for me was not. I do not know if others received this “notice,” but for as much positives going on in downtown there are still buildings needing a little help.
I want to tell the community I am working diligently to re-establish our old buildings. To the person who left the note: Why don’t you just grab a broom and sweep the sidewalks?
James Anderson and Family