Thomas S. Monaghan, multi- millionaire founder of Domino’s Pizza, has backed away from his initial concept for the town of Ave Maria, Florida. As originally conceived — can we use that word? — the strict Catholic university would be imbedded both physically and spiritually in the larger (5,000 acre) town. No X-rated entertainment on the cable, no topless bars or adult bookstores on the street, no condoms or birth control devices for sale at the drug stores, and heaven knows, no abortions. Anywhere.
Critics have observed that it’s shaping up like a place where the Taliban might feel very much at home. Advocates point out that the rules are posted at the entrances, and nobody will be forced to live there.
An intriguing aspect of this concept is Law Enforcement. Are there plans to
empanel an Inquisition? Public executions in the university quadrant, or at
least healthy, soul-cleansing floggings? It gives the word “stakeholder” a whole new meaning.
The ACLU has raised a number of pesky details (as has the Sierra Club, but
on separate environmental grounds) about Supreme Court decisions
regarding the rights of private property ownership becoming circumscribed
by the rights of the people who use the facilities. And Monaghan has adjusted
his statements, saying his remarks applied not to the entire town, but just the
“I don’t fully understand why I should have to follow these rules, which are obviously written for people who aren’t as rich, religious, and pure as I am,” he reportedly complained. “After all, I’m the genius that came up with the idea of making pizza with the taste and consistency of Communion wafers!”
Florida Architect Magazine, which described the town’s style as “Medieval ranch with pastel highlights,” plans a pictorial review in the fall.