It’s too soon to endorse an expansion of the Eastland Park Hotel that would build a ballroom and outdoor eating area in what is now public space at Congress Square: No plans have been presented so far, so this concept is still in the talking stage.

But it’s not too soon to shoot down one of the predictable arguments against the expansion, the one that says this is not even worth talking about because it would turn public space over to a private use. When it comes to Congress Square, that’s not necessarily a bad idea.

Let’s remember that this is not a beloved spot with a long, successful history of use as public space. Not that long ago it housed a franchise doughnut shop that was a favored solicitation site for prostitutes. The city took it over and created a little-used outdoor amphitheater that has been as popular with panhandlers and public drinkers as it has been with the general public.

If the idea was to build a housing development in Deering Oaks, the critics might have a point.

Or if developers wanted to build another high-rise that blocked the view of the harbor at the Eastern Prom, we would be outraged.

But if the Eastland’s owners want to talk about turning a blighted corner in an up-and-coming neighborhood into a successful commercial venture – while moving a valuable piece of property out of tax-exempt status and onto the tax rolls – that’s a conversation that the city ought to be having.

We are not the only ones who feel that way. The Congress Square Redesign Study Committee, which had previously advised keeping the corner as a park, unanimously endorsed the development concept if certain objectives are met. They wouldn’t support just any development, but members feel that the success of the Eastland is crucial to the city. They have suggested ways that the loss of public open space could be mitigated by changes elsewhere in the city’s Arts District.

The matter will now be sent to the City Council’s Community Development Committee, and the group that has been studying Congress Square will be given a chance to participate in the process as the Eastland’s owners start rolling out their plans.

A lot of details will have to be discussed before this is a plan that the city can finally consider, but that is a conversation worth having.