Actually, I have my own ideas — more of a wish list, really — about what to do with Yankton’s old post office.
I could see it as an upscale restaurant, perhaps with some apartments on the top floor. Or it could be a more basic eatery or a cool pub. Or even a music store or a video arcade, when I lose track of which century this is.
Yes, I have lots of ideas, and that’s all they are: what-ifs conjured up in spare moments when I think about that empty building sitting at Fourth and Walnut right next door to me.
Unfortunately, those casual notions seem about as practical as anything else planned for the building right now.
As I write this, the old post office, which has been sitting empty since 2012, remains in limbo. A story we did earlier this week confirmed that. If there is something going on with the building, city officials don’t know about it. And the only entity we could find for information about the 1905 post office — referring to the auction firm which has been trying to field bids for the structure for several months — responded to our phone message Tuesday by abruptly taking down the auction signage that had been displayed since last summer. This was done, apparently, in lieu of returning our call.
OK, we get it.
This is frustrating coming on the heels of promises we’ve been fed through the years about other people’s ideas and plans for the post office. To be fair, the owners of the building did do extensive roof repairs about 18 months ago, which gave the impression of resolve. But for now, we’re not seeing that at all.
Of course, Yankton has faced this before: promises and grand designs that, for whatever reasons, come to naught.
Currently (and perhaps unfairly, sparked mostly by impatience and experience), I think of the hotel set to be built by the mall. It was put on hold last year due to funding issues, we were told, but city officials assured the public over the winter that the plan is all set to move forward again. But it’s mid-June and the action at that site so far this construction season (which has, admittedly, been wet) has been conspicuously MIA. A story in today’s (Friday) paper reports that the hotel officials are still planning to build and are getting details lined up, so we will continue to play this waiting game a little while longer.
In fact, the mall itself has been promising big changes for at least a decade. There was going to be major, game-changing remodeling and facade work, with the city hammering out a deal for funding. And we’re still waiting.
I suppose you could throw in the proposed Port Yankton gaming/entertainment facility, which has been put on hold for now after being shot down twice in the Legislature. I wouldn’t be surprised if this remains down for the count.
Through the years, I’ve heard promises for a lot of things — like an 18-hole golf course out by Lewis & Clark Lake and a race track north of town, for instance — that never materialized.
Promises are wonderful, tantalizing things, but when they fail to come through for various reasons, it’s easy to get discouraged eventually.
However, perhaps these disappointments and frustrations provide us with some contrast, making it easier to appreciate the things that do come through as promised.
One of those is the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center, which I’ve written about before because it is such a great success story. Bruce Cull has been a man of his word from the get-go, but I suspect it’s exceeded his early visions. The facility is bringing, literally, world-class championships and talent to town. (As I learned Wednesday, there are no less than three world championships scheduled for Yankton the next three Septembers.) The center has been everything that was promised, and much more.
The Mead Cultural Education Center is another success. I had doubts about turning that fortress into a grand showcase, but the officials with the Dakota Territorial Museum, with help from the city and state, have made it a reality that opens up a lot of possibilities.
The Dakota Plains facility at Napa Junction was almost derailed (so to speak) a couple of times, but it ultimately persevered. Now it’s knocking on the doors of some amazing new possibilities, including expanded natural gas access for this region.
Let’s also point to the aquatic center, which is scheduled to break ground this fall. Honestly, I didn’t really think this would happen, but I underestimated the relentless drive of the Dive In Yankton group to push it over the finish line.
This list could go on: the upcoming Mount Marty field house and football program, the Meridian Bridge conversion (and, if you want to go back nine decades, the bridge in general), the refurbishing of Crane-Youngworth Field … and others that don’t immediately spring to mind or that I simply take for granted. But you get the idea.
So, in fact, Yankton has seen some great plans come to reality — more so, frankly, than it sometimes seems or feels.
There is some comfort in that. It’s a record of success we can embrace with a sense of hope as we wait for more promises to be kept.
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