Thursday, July 14, 2016

B & B Theater Renovations from Eco Dev Funds - Good, Bad & Ugly

At this past Monday's council meeting a proposal was made to use eco development funds to assist in in the renovation of the B & B 18 Theater (formerly West Glen 18).  Basically, the eco development funds would be spread out over a 10 year period using a formula similar to a TIF (tax increment financing) district.  There will also be either one or two additional restaurants in the shopping center.

When we consider that we have two new hotels going in across the street from the theater, along with a retail/restaurant building, it could make the entire area a mini destination venue.  The hotel count will jump to five and we have some nice existing eating establishments there.  The revitalization can bring in business from other surrounding cities and western Shawnee and reduce the number of those folks who go to OP and other areas.  Folks staying at the hotels, be it for business, pleasure, recreation (sports tournaments) etc will now have more entertainment/eating choices. All of this literally within walking distance if they want.  I think it can be positive.

During the discussion on this item both Council Members Jenkins & Pflumm brought up one very important fact.  This item appeared on the council agenda the Thursday before the meeting, which gave both council members and the public very limited time to review the project, prepare possible questions, and maybe even alternative suggestions.  Normally projects like this go to a council committee meeting first.  It is at the committee meetings that the "fleshing out" takes place.  Then, it goes to a council meeting, which also allows for even additional or follow up discussion.  This project needed to go to a committee meeting first.  I disagree with SEDC Exec Director Andrew Nave's comments and reasoning concerning the need to have a rush to judgment.  (Personally I would still have been in favor of the project). Others who deserved time to review/speak out about the item were not given that chance.

Councilmember Jenkins even pointed out that this was not the first time that an item had skipped the committee process and gone directly to council.

It is my opinion that whoever fast tracked this item to the council, without having come before the committee was wrong.  I also feel that that individual needs to apologize to both the council and the citizens of Shawnee for this "push".  Let's stick to proper procedures.  A few extra weeks would not have been detrimental to the renovation process.  I am reminded of an old saying that went something like "a delay or procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part"