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SPOTLIGHT
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Misdirected

Published on -9/28/2012, 9:58 AM

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Twelve vacant retail and commercial buildings on Main Street in the Chestnut District alone. One of these properties is located right next to City Hall where city commissioners meet weekly. Yet commissioners seem to be oblivious to their lack of success in bringing businesses to downtown or what they call Chestnut District.

It's not because a lack of their spending and speculating with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the past 12 years, or their creation of new so-called outside agencies like the Downtown Hays Development Corp. and the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, both of which are staffed, equipped and housed with taxpayer money. Now they want to invest in another whimsical venture which will only drain us taxpayers further, and give zero revenue in return.

At last week's city work session, DHDH Executive Director Traci Konrade and past (who's the present?) DHDC board President Michele Flax asked to create a pavilion at 10th and Main streets next to the railroad tracks and Union Park.

They said, "The pavilion could serve many purposes including wedding receptions, family reunions as well as community functions."

Commissioner Henry Schwaller, who is also the treasurer of DHDC made several comments in favor of supporting the pavilion. He said, "The facility is very beautiful. It could be a gathering place."

Get real! Gather next to railroad tracks with no central A/C in the summer and space heaters in winter? Actually because he is treasurer of DHDC and his family has properties in the downtown area directly across from the proposed pavilion, he should not be included in discussion or voting on the issue because of this "conflict of interest." I hope the city attorney is aware of this. The best and truest statement was made by Commissioner Barb Wasinger when she said, "There's been a lot of time and money spent downtown" -- yes, you're right about that. Taxpayer money.

Total cost to taxpayers would be more than a quarter million dollars, plus the cost of the city to manage the building -- forever. Keep in mind we just gave the DHDC $60,000 less than a month ago. DHDC claims it has a donor that would contribute $300,000. To the anonymous donor, there are better ways to help this community, like donating the money to Mary Elizabeth Home, animal shelter and many other charitable organizations.

The building would not have central air or heat and no restrooms. I have never been to a wedding reception or family reunion where there were no restrooms inside the facility, but that's what these economic executives from DHDC suggested. Again, hired by commissioners, and wages paid by taxpayers. We pay these people very good salaries, and this is what we get. Just another waste of taxpayer money. Commissioners, if you must constantly spend our money, then you should also give the quarter million dollars to some worthwhile charity.

John Basso

Hays

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