Saturday, April 20, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Elon downtown development director: Let’s continue to lose money on a bad idea


Last week’s Elon town council meeting provided its typical degree of humor – although, as usual, we don’t think the council members and staff intended the discussion to be as hilarious as we found it to be.

Let’s see if we can summarize the essence of the silly project the town council was considering:

This past September, the council, unwisely in our view at the time, decided to set aside town property (a little park area downtown) where it would allow a Gibsonville beer meister to set up shop on a short-term trial basis. Let us emphasize: it offered up publicly-owned property and for the benefit of a private concern that isn’t even an Elon taxpayer.

The town council, also foolishly in our judgment, agreed to shell out $4,000 of town tax dollars in order to set up porta-potties and run electricity to the park area where the beer company was going to set up shop.  The schedule called for the operation on Thursdays and Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; on Saturdays from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m.; and on Sundays from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m.

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The only concession the town got  from the brewer was that he yield 5 percent of the gross revenues from his so-called beer garden as “payment” for his “lease” of town property.

The results are in from the three-month trial: the town got all of $106.40  for its outlay of $4,000.

So, after the three-month trial period, the town hears back from the downtown coordinator.  We continue to express amazement that the town retains a full-time bureaucrat on the payroll to promote a one-block area that constitutes its “downtown.”  And her pitch to the council?  The trial failed; so. . . let’s keep trying it for a longer period.

Her rationalization for the beer garden’s poor showing was that the trial had coincided with the beginning of cold weather; so, we really should try it in the springtime, she urged the council, to see if it might do better.

What, we wonder, will it take to convince her, or the town council, that this was a bad idea in the first place – and continues to be a poor choice?

A poor investment and rate of return of precious tax dollars.  And a very poor judgment in the use of public resources – both the taxpayers’ cash and use of public property.

Only in Elon could any public board consider a $106.40 return on a $4,000 outlay of tax dollars  something worth continuing.

If they actually decide to continue this farce, we suspect all of the council members should consider a run for school board, which is the only other place we know of where that kind of math is applauded.

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