Don’t you just hate people with ulterior motives who have enough standing that people listen to them and believe in them without realizing their true agenda?
The tiny, unincorporated village that I live in has an old building that’s no longer used by the entity that owns it but they continue to use part of the grounds surrounding the building for very valid purposes. That entity made a decision about a year ago to auction off the building and a small portion of the grounds surrounding it. The price they were asking was too high, given the valuation of the building and the fact that most of the land associated with it wasn’t part of the deal. They had no takers.
The only serious potential buyer for the building, a local businessman with strong ties to the community, wanted everything, lock, stock and barrel. He wouldn’t settle for what the entity was willing to part with and didn’t formally bid. Why does he want it all? Well, for starters, he owns the farm land that butts up against it and he’d be able to extend his property. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in his eyes as an oil man, there’s a drilling well on the property and mineral rights that go along with that. No one can blame him for wanting this land for the profit potential he sees in it. No one. That’s not in dispute.
Last night we had a community meeting to discuss a plan for the community, under the umbrella of a 501-C3 non-profit organization, to buy this building at a steeply discounted cost to operate it as a community center. It’s been offered to the community in a very specific, low dollar deal that only includes what was originally offered at auction. Included in the meeting discussion was a request for capital contribution pledges for so many years to pay for the maintenance and operations of the building until it generates enough rental income to pay for itself. There’s a tight timeline involved in the process as the building – which isn’t in bad shape at all – is slated for demolition. Once demolished, some or all of the land will likely be auctioned to the highest bidder rather than donated to the community. The community may win it, they may not.
The community was on board at the meeting, engaged and interested and they had their wallets out until our friendly neighborhood business man came in to stir the pot. His take? We shouldn’t let the current owners “off the hook” by buying this building and bailing them out. We shouldn’t take on an asset that costs so much to operate that comes with not all of the associated land. We should let them go ahead and tear it down, buy the resulting land and build our own building. For the operating costs proposed over five years (over a quarter of a million), we can build our own building. Those are all his words with very little paraphrasing on my part.
Does anyone see the hypocrisy in that? We, as a community have been made an offer for a very attractive price to acquire a fully functional building with tens of thousands of square feet and he’s suggesting we let them tear it down, hope to acquire the land at auction against multiple bidders and then build a much smaller building there for a much higher price. Of course, he made no mention of where the money to buy the land and then to build on it was going to come from in our little unincorporated slice of countryside. We’re meeting to raise 60 grand or so a year and now he wants us to buy land, fund a building in excess of 200 grand and then operate it? I smelled a rat. Don’t you?
Unfortunately, some in the community agreed with him, not realizing that his intent is to divide them and then, when the land is auctioned, to buy it for his own interests. Community minded purposes don’t play into that. Fortunately, enough saw through the ruse to work around to a compromise. We’ll be approaching the entity with an offer to take everything and grant them a 99 year lease/easement to use what they need. Failing that, we’ll take the offer that’s already on the table.
Ill will abounds in the village after last night but, in the end, community spirit won out over capitalistic intentions. Not every reasonable person buys into personal political hyperbole!