Poor decision on local armory

In visiting with folks about town, I've found not a single person who favors giving the former National Guard Armory to the American Legion. Shouldn't we taxpayers be asking why the commissioners are bound and determined to give this property away at all? The City Recreation Department is a part of our city government, duly created years ago by a vote of the public, and has a program lined up to make it into a recreation center for our young people.

And it had two donors lined up to give $150,000 to the city for any remodeling that might have been necessary. With the original estimated value of this property at $375,000, this makes $525,000 the Commission is throwing out of our city till. Again the question is why? Why not allow the recreation department to use it as long as it is for community recreation? Is the Commission mad at the recreation department, and if so, why? The building is a valuable city asset that can be utilized now. Retaining title makes possible different future use by other city departments if needed. It's not costing us a thing as it now exists.

Some folks doubt the Legion has an active-enough membership or the finances to operate the armory since it was unable to raise the $60,000 it needed several years ago to install an elevator in their building on Pine Street. That building will become an instant sink hole for taxpayers' dollars the minute the city gets the title because of the need for an elevator, new entrance, etc., etc. It certainly could not be sold "as is," even should the Commission desire to do that, because of the recent new tax valuation of more than $600,000. That "piece of idiocy" certainly guarantees no private ownership would be possible because of the new high, extortive valuation. I don't know what computer program the appraisal folks are using or who put it together, but it's absolutely "pie in the sky" and then some.

So get on the phone to all five commissioners and tell them to let the recreation department get on with its project at the armory to help our kids. This "giveaway" is not logical, it's not fiscally smart, prudent or wise. And it certainly violates the promises they made to look after our tax dollars.

And while you are at it, please drive down Main Street, from Fulton south to Maple. Your Commissioners recently voted to spend $538,000 on our half of a project to pave just those three blocks of Main Street. Apparently, state and/or federal dollars will pick up the other half. That's almost $400,000 per block. But why tear up and replace perfectly good paving? If they say it was in the Capital Improvement Projects schedule, don't fall for that. None of those folks are elected and told to ignore the costs on projects when considered.

Please take a look at this "project" right away and include your opinion when you "have your say" about the "Armory Giveaway."


Garden City

West is a former Garden City mayor and City Commissioner.