No one likes to view a downtown area with buildings in disrepair. And every good businessman knows that when his place looks good, it will attract more customers.
So why are there places in town that seem to need attention?
Some are owned by non-local entities, who are either taking a loss write-off, are in an internal fight as to the disposition of the property, or are afraid that sticking money into these currently-vacant buildings will only result in increased property taxes. Let a new buyer refurbish as he pleases. Other buildings might be in probate, where the final ownership is undecided, and there's no sense for anyone to fix them up unless they have clear title.
Whatever the reason, we have to be very, very careful regarding urging the government to "crack down" on the owners. First of all, under what law can the government force property owners to do anything to beautify their properties? I personally hope there are none, as government is already more intrusive than most people want. Who wants the "Beauty Police" roaming around town threatening fines to those who don't comply to their arbitrary judgements?
We have to let market forces dictate how Sturgeon Bay looks. If there is money to be made by creating a "Disney Main Street" in SB, then that will happen. If the town is viewed by our visiters as just another obstacle to be overcome on the way to Fish Creek, even if SB merchants invest big money in the decor, then we will have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot compete with the beauty of NorDor.
Again, in a capitalistic society, market forces and peoples' choices dictate where we choose to spend our money, not the government. God forbid that that would ever change.