Dance With The One That Brought You

This falls squarely in the Rant column here, so scroll on if that doesn’t interest you.

The other day I posted about the the READI grants we submitted. (here) The Water Street Townhomes project in Plymouth was part of an application that went in with the original READI call for projects in July of 2021. When I found out that Culver only had one small park project to submit, I asked if they would support a small housing project. I suggested 12 townhomes similar to those suggested for Water Street project. I was told a straw poll had 3 council members in favor and, “You be the lead if you don’t mind. I fully trust you.” This all came about last minute and I ended up spending a Saturday putting together a proforma and submitting an application. Spirit Townhomes in Culver was listed as part of the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP) READI application submitted to IEDC.

I grew up in Culver and even though I live outside of Culver now, I still consider it my home town, since my business is here and my parents still live here. Most of you know my track record for participation and dedication to helping move Culver forward. (I started to make a list, but it seemed self-serving.) That’s why I participated in Stellar and partnered with the Town on Sand Hill Farm Apartments and The Paddocks, when no outside developers would. Both of those projects met or exceeded the goals the Town set for them. In the months leading up to the application deadline, I was told Culver wouldn’t be participating in READI. Then in the last couple weeks before the deadline, I was surprised by the Town of Culver’s decision to pursue a project with a different, out-of-town developer. I suggested submitting a version of the Spirit Townhomes too and was told there wasn’t time…

Dance With The One That Brought You…

This seems to be a pattern that is repeating. I don’t know if this is a conscious decision or just a careless oversight. In any case, it’s a noticeable departure from the stated goals of supporting local businesses. A couple other examples of which I’m aware:

There are two banks in town. The First National Bank of Monterey and First Farmers Bank & Trust have sponsored Town events, participated on committees, supported the Town by purchasing their bonds, cashing their checks and covered all the minor things such as providing change. The Town shopped their services, as they should, but in lieu of keeping the competition local, they went outside the town and ended up moving their money to Plymouth for minor advantages. Was it really worth it? Dance With The One That Brought You…

Good-To-Go brought in plans to the Culver TRC to demolish their existing building and put in a whole new service station which would have brought additional money to the TIF and improved the downtown. During that same time, an outside developer approached the Town about a new service station at the edge of town (outside the Town’s Comprehensive Plans stated goals), which would have damaged Good-To-Go’s business as well as that of the other convenience store in town. Their concerns were met with derision, including one council member chastising them about prices and telling them that they bought their gas in Plymouth. This was while Good-To-Go had a “Cavalier” pump set up with a portion of all sales from that pump going to the Culver Community Schools. Good-To-Go scaled their project back by half. The other developer’s project never came to fruition. Dance With The One That Brought You…

I’m sure some will read this as just “sour grapes” and maybe deservedly so. But with all three examples here, it’s a question of supporting those that support the Town, not with handouts, but yes, maybe with a little favoritism, in recognition of what local businesses do for the town on a day-to-day basis… As the saying goes, Amazon does not sponsor your little league team or have employees coaching it.

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