One day last week, Rose and I drove over to Spencer for the usual shopping, etc. As is usually part of our Spencer itinerary, we dined at Tudor's. We both enjoy their cuisine and find the experience commensurate with fine dining at a reasonable price. I have always enjoyed Tudor's and traveled many times to eat at the Big Otter Tudor's until its fiery demise several years ago.|
As much as I enjoy Tudor's, The Herald's 10/14 heralding of the coming of Tudor's to Grantsville "Could biscuits, gravy and more pizza be coming to Grantsville?" didn't exactly set my mouth to watering.
As a taxpaying resident and citizen with a lengthy list of community service in a variety of capacities in his past and who has served as mayor (which I always viewed primarily as community service), I have been present for much of the past "much ado about the pit" episodes. This issue always gets my attention.
There are, I believe, things regarding the Tudor's deal to be considered and addressed. I'm not dramatic to the point that I would label the deal as a Trojan Horse or anything of the kind. However, as with everything that comes along wearing the face of opportunity, there is always that other side to be explored, assessed and presented to the public (the property's owners). To the best of my knowledge, neither of these two things has occurred.
Anyone who has remained abreast of the "pit" issue knows its sometimes tumultuous history. The Satterfield proposal, the Calhoun Banks proposal, and the little known grant proposal have all been catalysts that spurred argumentation, heated debate and even conflict, both professional and personal. In some ways, after all that, the Tudor's deal seems somewhat anti-climatic.
My appreciation for a good serving of biscuits and gravy and various other menu items notwithstanding, I do have some concerns. Here, if I may contribute my humble viewpoint, are a few considerations as I see them.
1. Moving an already established town business (Gino's) from one location to another in town does not, in and of itself, constitute any type of real growth or forward movement. Progress for a municipality cannot be necessarily defined as improved or enhanced culinary options. The addition of Tudor's does hold a certain appeal albeit not to municipal growth, fiscal or otherwise.
2. The municipal parking lot is the town's last significant, disposable asset. Disposal of it needs to be handled with great civic responsibility, legislative discretion and fiscal analysis. A.) One question one might put forth is "What is the real benefit in terms of immediate growth, projected growth and real and significant contribution(s) to municipal financial stability in both the present and the future? B.) Does this project surpass in potential any future opportunity(ies)? Of course, some research is necessary here, but I doubt much or any of that has been done. If it has, nothing of this has been passed on to the public (the owners). It sometimes seems that the deal might have been made more out of urgency or even desperation to "unload" the pit. Neither of these needs to be, nor should it have been, the case.
3. The addition of one business at the possible harm to, or even demise of, another business is just bad business. Will the deal bring harm or even worse to another business in town? I know the same risks apply anytime anyone, private entity or otherwise, open a business in competition with another already established. Free enterprise and competition are good for the consumer. Conversely, monopolies generally are not. Granted, the town government doesn't know whether this deal will or will not harm other business. Nevertheless, the town government doesn't need to be, nor should it be, the bringing about the potential for harm or even demise of another municipal business. The town should not be in the business of risking one business on behalf of another. This may work in larger towns but not here.
4. The previous sitting council during my last tenure as mayor flatly rejected, not once but twice, a grant that, at absolutely no expense to the town, would have filled in the "pit", renovated the parking lot and landscaped the area. This proposal in no way bound the town to closing any and all considerations for future business development. The proposed grant project would have greatly improved the area both functionally and aesthetically and allowed it to remain as a potential area for development should any future proposals of significant municipal benefit be forthcoming. I would suggest that this grant may still be available and further examination of it would have been in keeping with good foresight and judicious management.
5. Calhoun Banks had an opportunity to lease the property, but they were unwilling to discuss my proposal for a lease which would have secured a larger income for the town from both rental of the property and other revenue sharing contributions. After all, the bank is a multi-million dollar entity with ever expanding annual profits, as is Gino's/Tudor's. They would have been a prime tenant of the property. Unfortunately, all they wanted to give the town for the property, no lease just trade, was a building on Main Street which almost certainly would have, sooner or later, become a "white elephant" for the municipality.
6. The projected lease fee for Tudor's, so far as the general public has been informed, is $800 per month or $9600 per year. Upon review of the entire municipal budget, the lease amount becomes an extremely trivial and inconsequential contribution to the town's finances.
A good plate of Tudor's biscuits and gravy, as do other tasty options on the menu, appeals to me.
However, as a resident of the town, with a vested interest in its well being, I can't help wondering and fearing just how much biscuits and gravy are really worth. Regardless of how many meals are consumed, I am sure the town will not grow fat or even, for that matter, as a direct impact of this deal, receive much sustenance toward maintaining a healthy weight.
Once the Tudor's meal has been consumed, digested and disposed, I wouldn't want to try and project what may be left. I can only hope, however, that it's more than just a future case of acute indigestion.