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In city, it’s more than a hotel

Downtown hotel.

Downtown hotel.

Downtown hotel.

Well, at least we’ve got your attention now.

We’re not prepared to take a position in favor or in opposition to the proposed downtown hotel project yet.

The reality of the situation is that there was no project to have an opinion on until this week when city officials released a site plan.

And that site plan is still preliminary, it’s speculative. The city — and the hotel developer for that matter – shouldn’t expend funds on finalizing actual plans until they know whether council will give the proposal the opportunity to proceed.

Anyone who has taken a firm position on the issue prior to this week has exhibited a very short-sighted approach. They’re objecting to an idea, not a project.

We do have a couple of concerns about how the debate in the community has unfolded to this point.

First of all, if you think this is big, bad city government pushing a hotel down the throats of its taxpaying residents, you’re simply wrong.

We commend city staff for constantly seeking potential investment avenues in the community. They’ve cast a wide net of potential ideas and potential developers. The hotel is really the first one where the idea — and a developer to fund it — came together.

We agree with many of you who have commented on our Facebook page that we need development. And many of you have put forth exceptional ideas.

But what you have to realize is that the city doesn’t have the financial resources to wish those ideas into existence. Development won’t happen on its own. How do we know? Because it largely hasn’t happened on its own. The city is at the will of the people who they find that are willing to invest here.

And the investment in this case is focused on the riverfront. While we think that area does need to be developed — unimproved vacant lots as parking spaces simply aren’t the best use of prime riverfront properties owned by the tax payers — the developer has not expressed interest in any of the other proposed locations.

Secondly, did you pay attention to the city’s 2021 budget discussions?

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the city to cover the costs for the services its residents expect, especially 24/7 police and fire/EMS.

Again, we want to emphasize that we’re not taking a position on the hotel project. But we do firmly believe that the status quo in our community will lead to us continuing to slowly die on the vine.

We agree with City Manager Nancy Freenock that we all need to enter into these discussions — and forthcoming public meetings — with an open mind.

The health and future of our community require it.

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