I thought the title of this series “Mall-itics” was kind of catchy, and finally the politics of the mall came out during the Mall Redevelopment meeting of June 16th at the Public Works Facility. Too put it lightly, the fur was flying.
I attended this meeting, and the first meeting, and honestly I didn’t expect much in the way of fireworks. But there was a full house with Councilmembers Mary Blue and Karen Benker in attendance, along with city staff, the consultants, and quite a few of Panattoni staff. It was standing room only, may I suggest next time it’s done in council chambers?
As you may have seen, the previous three parts of this is about the politics brewing under the surface that weren’t getting much if any local media attention. I don’t usually send my articles on to city council members or the Times Call, occasionally, but rarely. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing into a vacuum, but occasionally I hear my words echoed back to me. Intentionally or by total coincidence, it doesn’t matter. Either someone read or heard what I said, or more likely, I tapped into a perception or a mood of the community.
For instance, in Pt. 1 I spoke of a perceived “bloc” on city council. I’m not shocked or surprised by much, but I was fairly a little of both when Mary Blue (who continues to impress with her version of the “Straight Talk Express”) let fly with her frank comments about other members of council. She started by apologizing that what she was about to say was ” definitely political“, and some of her comments were covered in the Times-Call article. But she also said she hadn’t heard anything contradictory from the developer and pointed out that she heard ” tremendous openness to your comments and your ideas” from Panattoni. But the three members who voted against the mall ( Levison, McCoy and Hansen), weren’t there and appear to not be listening.
Something Ms. Blue said may not thrill some people: ” It’s refreshing to come to these (mall) sessions because we’re not seeing the same gripers we see every week at council“, which got a good laugh from the crowd. And it’s true, and a point I’ve been trying to make for months. We have a faction here in Longmont, you should know who they are, I only write about them constantly, who offer nothing but whining and complaining and offer no solutions. The realities of doing business, and actually having revenues to sustain a city are not their priorities. Self promotion, street renaming, church slandering, pointless marching, tin-foil for cranial enlightenment and solar hair curling, questionable campaign activities, and constant meddling and name-calling with nothing constructive – those are their priorities. But I digress, but it was nice to see Ms. Blue recognize these people for what they are.
Ms. Blue said ” we are hearing the same arguments against this every single time and there’s no validity to it“, and asked ” where were they getting these ideas?” I was equally surprised when Ms. Blue named the three councilmembers against this project. I figured Ms. Benker would have to weigh in and defend the other three, and she did by saying they ” gave this a lot of thought, discussed it, and they do their homework“. Look again at Pt. 2 and Pt. 3, it does not appear they’ve done their homework at all on this, they show it with their comments and questions that they are ” not with clue“, to put it nicely.
What the Times Call didn’t say about the ” pit one part of council against other part of council” by Ms. Benker and Ms. Blues retort ” it already is, Karen” was the loud response via laughter by nearly everyone in the crowd. After that, there was one citizen who’s obviously against the mall redevelopment and suspicious of Panattoni, and no matter how much Ann Ricker or Will Damrath answered his questions, he wasn’t listening. I assume this is how the three councilmembers must go about their thought processes.
A question he asked, and in the form of a suspicious statement by others at other meetings was basically ” why did you buy the mall in the first place if you knew it was in the condition it was in?” Mr. Damrath answered ” It’s the best piece of real estate in Longmont. As successful as our Harvest Junction was, we still had retailers saying ‘I’m going to wait and see what happens at Hover and 119’ (the mall). That’s the place to be in Longmont. It’s where the traffic is, it’s where people shop.” Probably went in one ear and out the other, similar to what probably occurs with some of our council members. More on this meeting in Pt. 5.
Longmont Politics includes political posts from Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, UNElect McCoy, and news/info posts from Longmont Foreclosures, Vote Longmont, and Longmont Examiner.
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