City’s face is changing

AMARILLO, Texas — Returning on occasion to a city my wife and I called home for 23 years always is a treat in one important regard.

Every time I come back to Amarillo, I see development that was non-existent on previous visits. My latest foray to the unofficial capital of the Texas Panhandle provided a glaring example of what I mean.

We lived in far southwest Amarillo, in a neighborhood that served the Canyon Independent School District. I ventured to the old ‘hood to look at the house we had built in late 1996. The new residents are taking good care of the place. I drove down Hillside Road and saw strip malls galore that weren’t there just a few years ago. I ventured along Loop 335 and saw more of the same. Coulter Street is bustling, man.

I noticed construction of the new “loop” is well underway. Crews have erected overpasses and are moving many tons of dirt around.

A movie theater that once entertained crowds north of Interstate 40 is closed; that’s a downer, but then again, it’s probably a sign of the new era of “streaming.”

My son and I went out to the Town Square development for a night cap the other evening and it, too, has come a long way.

The fire department has erected a new station next door to the hotel where I am staying on Paramount Boulevard. Therefore, I am confident that firefighters would respond rapidly in case of well … emergency.

I ventured downtown to take care of some personal business and noticed that the parking garage across the street from the ballpark where the Sod Poodles play hardball is still virtually empty. There has been next to zero retail occupancy declared along all those storefronts. That, too, is a drag.

But the downtown district looks alive and well. The Barfield Hotel looks like a gem of a restoration project.

And so … the once moribund burg where I worked and offered opinions on issues of the day for the newspaper, appears to be in good health. That makes me happy.

Oh, the newspaper? The Amarillo Globe-News? Well, that’s another story for another day. It is pitiful.