OUR VIEW: About time for VFW to catch a break
The Veterans of Foreign Wars can’t seem to catch a break.
The Mitchell organization’s previous building was inadvertently yet seriously damaged by a city-run demolition project last year. The VFW then asked the city to purchase the VFW building, so its members could buy a building elsewhere in the city. The city rightfully obliged.
Now, the VFW is setting up shop at a new location farther north on Main Street, and owners of some nearby businesses are unhappy, saying the VFW’s new site will be detrimental to existing businesses.
Some businesspeople spoke to the City Council about the issue during a regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, which resulted in the council delaying the transfer of the VFW’s liquor license. We do not begrudge those business owners their concerns; actually, we appreciate their dedication to Mitchell’s downtown business district and their courage to speak out on a touchy issue that involves a highly respected demographic — American veterans.
However, we just don’t see the problem.
Business owners Jim Johnston, of Harve’s Sports Shop, and Jan Christensen, of Ben Franklin Crafts, both said they are worried about the new location of the VFW. Among the concerns are that VFW lounge patrons sometimes step outside to smoke cigarettes, and that a bar isn’t right for that particular piece of Main Street.
Again, we appreciate that concern and we firmly believe in the right to state an opinion in a public setting. Good for Christensen and Johnston for doing just that.
Meanwhile, Councilmen Dan Allen and Jeff Smith both said they were disappointed with the VFW — the former claiming the VFW misrepresented which building it would purchase, and the latter lamenting that the VFW didn’t discuss its plans with other downtown business owners.
We don’t know if those claims are true, but we feel the city could have avoided the problems by openly discussing them prior to purchasing the VFW’s former building last year.
Either way, we don’t see how the VFW can possibly be denied this location when several bars (five, by our count) already exist on Main Street. And we also don’t see how the VFW can be denied this location after its building was gouged by the city’s demolition of a neighboring building.
This isn’t a bar frequented by college kids or the Hells Angels. It isn’t a strip club. It’s a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
The way we see it, the VFW has found its new building. The City Council should approve the liquor license transfer.