Larry Neu: City ‘Strong-arming’ VFW
November 16, 2011
To the editor:
After reading some of the anonymous comments on the Daily Press blog, I feel like I should straighten out some of the facts. The property in question is south of the city pool to Victory Way on both sides of Washington Street.
The property was deeded to the VFW by the Women's Civic Improvement Club of Craig subject to the following terms and conditions:
1: The land described hereinabove shall be used only by the second party, its successors and assigns as a public park and as a site for a home, a hall or other meeting place or structure for the party of the second part or any business incident thereto.
2: The premises above described or any part thereof shall never be used for trade, manufacture or business of any kind whatever other than such incidental commercial and entertainment ventures as may be conducted thereon for the convenience, pleasure, comfort or advantage of the members of the party of the second part and its or their guests.
3: The said premises shall never be used as an auto court, auto trailer camp, campground or motel.
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The city did not renew their lease when it expired in 2009. In 2010, the day before Whittle the Wood, the parks and rec director told the American Legion that they could not sell fundraiser raffle tickets at the event without paying for a space. When informed that no veterans would be denied access to Veterans Park or he would be charged with trespassing, it was agreed they could have a space. Forward to 2011, the VFW met with the city negotiating team to discuss a new lease. The VFW requests were for nonprofit organizations to have a non-fee priority at events held in Veterans Park, that the VFW be allowed to be the beer vendor at events held in Veterans Park. We were informed that that was not possible because the city needed the revenue from the vendor spaces and a percentage of beer sales to offset the expense of putting on the event, which the city manager said loses in excess of $10,000 per event. That is where the negotiations stalled (go back and reread paragraph 2 of the covenants). I see this as the city's usual jackbooted approach to dealing with the citizens.
Anonymous comments of fiduciary responsibility, got their feelings hurt, the VFW does not have the money to maintain the property, eminent domain, we should thank the city for what they have done and yes this is not a pissing contest.
Bottom line: "Given that in the Craig market there is very little need for an open space land because of the rural nature of the area, the market for this type of property is virtually non-existent." (Arnie Butler, page 41 of appraisal)
So to the citizens of Craig, your city administration has gotten away with strong-arming people for so long they think it is just a matter of course and they do not have to compromise. Keep that in mind as this goes along.
I will not put my thoughts down anonymously; I will proudly stand up for my beliefs just as I did when my served my country.
The opinions expressed in this letter are entirely my own, and may or may not reflect those of any other members of my family, friends, neighbors, employees or other organizations to which I may belong.