Home Chris Graham: Silence

Chris Graham: Silence


That’s what I’ve noticed. An unexpected silence on the $3.5 million land grab being contemplated by Waynesboro City Council.

I’ve heard from two people – one by e-mail and one by phone. We’ve had a couple, literally, comments on our AFP website. I’ve seen a relative handful of comments on the two local newspaper sites, all from the familiar CB handles who comment on any- and everything under the sun.

Outside of that … silence.

Don’t think City Council members aren’t testing the airwaves with me. There’s an election coming up next year with three of the five seats on Council up for grabs.

Four years ago, swirling controversy over another economic-development deal reversed several years of gains by the moderate-progressive wing of the city power structure in one fell swoop. That tide resulted two years later in an effective clean sweep of all five seats on City Council by the conservative-libertarian alliance that now holds sway in the Yancey Building.

That deal, a million dollars tied to a performance agreement for the redevelopment of the Wayne Theatre, is pennies on the dollar to the one on the table right now. The city is not only on the hook for the $3.5 million purchase of the property off South Delphine being envisioned as a business park, but also for more than $7 million in infrastructure improvements to the property to make it marketable to developers.

If a million dollars can swing the pendulum in one direction, surely $10 million can swing it back in the other. Right?

Except for that silence. The bloggers who so throatily denounced moderates and progressives for backing city money for the Wayne have been making a similar case against the Opportunity Park deal, but are they the tip of a summer iceberg of discontent?

We shall see. It’s hard to imagine that City Council won’t go through with this deal, as bad as it is (based on the current terms, though I can easily make a case for it being a good deal, provided we get a couple of million shaved off the asking price, and get the owners to participate in the financing).

It’s just as hard to imagine that the deal won’t become an anchor around the necks of those up for re-election next year.

Those making plans for 2012 might want to consider that as they try to make sense of the eerie silence that has enveloped the river city.

I’d bet that things get noisy between now and the next election.

More columns at TheWorldAccordingToChrisGraham.com



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