OUR VIEW: Don't dicker; just pay $175k to VFW
Oh, what a mess the city must clean up on Main Street.
To get readers up to speed, here's the short version: Last year, the city purchased the dilapidated Longhorn Bar for $1, even though city leaders knew the building needed to be razed. In the months since, the city has paid a higher-than-expected $171,000 to demolish the building, and that's the good news. The bad news is that the process has adversely affected the neighboring VFW post, which shares a tenuous wall with the Longhorn.
It's possible that the wall will collapse, and bring down the VFW, much like a set of dominoes.
Now, VFW members want to move, and who can blame them? None of this is their fault.
They have asked the city to purchase the VFW building, so a new post can be established elsewhere.
That catches us up to this week. During Monday's meeting of the Mitchell City Council, the VFW asked the city to pay $175,000 for the building and land. We reported last week that the council was thinking of a figure closer to $150,000.
We think it's just best to pay the $175,000.
It sounds like a fair price, and it also is only slightly higher than the city's original, unofficial, offer. Even Mayor Ken Tracy said recently that he feels a fair price is somewhere around $150,000 to $200,000, although he acknowledged that it will ultimately be up to the council.
This situation has turned into a morass for the city, and we feel it's best to just pay the piper. Bickering too much over price would be in poor taste, since the VFW is at no fault whatsoever for its predicament. And it would be nice if the owner of the Longhorn -- Jason Bates, who has moved across the street -- would offer to help the VFW in some way. He's apparently not legally bound to do so, but anything would help. It was his building, after all, that put the city and the VFW in this predicament.
When this mess is finally all sorted out, the city must realize that it's very likely this all could happen again elsewhere downtown. An evaluation of the Longhorn/VFW fiasco is needed so similar problems and costs can be avoided when the next old building fails.