A year after the Ford Center opened in downtown Evansville, we have still seen no signs of the convention hotel that was supposed to bring even more life (and visitors) to the city.

In fact, all that we have right now is a vacant lot full of weeds, holes and safety hazards located directly across the street from the arena.

An open gate and gaps in the fencing provide easy access to the lot. (photo by Johnny Kincaid)

On my walk around the location I was shocked at what I found. The gates were open, no signs of a lock or chains to prevent entry. Even if the gates were locked, the fencing along MLK is so bowed and warped that it provides an easy point of entry. The trespassing signs have been weathered to the point of being unreadable.

Open manhole in the middle of the lot. (photo by Johnny Kincaid)

Inside the fence I found debris from the old parking garage as well as stashes of bottles that indicate that the lot has been a place to hide and drink a few beers.

There’s on open manhole providing an unimpeded drop into the storm sewers below.

Then, there’s the BIG HOLE. It’s about a ten foot deep swimming pool sized hole. The orange safety

The swimming pool sized hole with missing safety fence. (photo by Johnny Kincaid)

fencing that was once there to keep people out is mostly gone.

The empty lot where the hotel should be gives a perfect view of the other great downtown hotel landmark, the bridge to nowhere. The pedestrian bridge from the Centre across MLK is just hanging there with nothing to connect to. The bridge remains even though it’s on the wrong side of Walnut to connect to the hotel and no plans

The pedestrian bridge from the Centre leads to nowhere. (photo by Johnny Kincaid)

have been announced for anything to connect the bridge to.

Of course, we have reported this serious safety situation to the city.

Remember all of the hype about the hotel? Remember the requests for proposals, followed by press conferences, announcements and artist renderings? Then comes another round of studies, announcements and an empty lot.

We’ve gone a year with no visible signs of progress on the convention hotel, just a vacant lot.

Will we be sitting this long to see anything develop on the lot where Roberts Stadium now stands? A year after the old stadium comes down, will we be looking at a larger lot of debris, weeds and safety violations? Or will our community be able to move forward with a plan to enrich the quality of life in Evansville?