Drawn and Quartered?

Who pays roughly a hundred thousand bucks above the appraised value of anything? At negotiating central on Sibley Rd., somebody surely has an answer.

At the risk of rockin’ the chair on the cat’s tail, Rocker and gang would love to hear from deal-makers at the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission the reasoning behind the decision to fork over a cool half million in a lease/purchase agreement for about 11 acres known as Miller Quarters.

Where we come from, that’s a lotta bucks exchanged for Quarters, especially considering the selling price is way yonder more than the appraised value, which we hear was around 400 thousand. But, friends and neighbors, there’s an upside. 

A source whispered that the negotiators from the WPCVC did talk reps of the Miller-Inabnett family down a few hundred grand from the original asking price which we hear was 800K. That’s a pretty steep asking price for history and progress, or whatever.

We realize we’re no architect, contractor or developer, but that half million is only step one for whatever the Commission envisions for that piece of property located behind the Civic Center/City Hall and bordering the scenic drainage ditch along Sheppard Street. 

Figured into the Commission’s dip into its hotel/motel tax reserve must be clearing of the remaining portion of the crown jewel, architectural plans for the “whatevers” (like walking trails) our planners envision. Also where will hillside parking accommodations be located, along with access and egress? It is, after all, a nice little elevation shift from scenic Sheppard to the HGTV-provided, luxuriously manicured, gazebo/Miller sign/overlook and picnic park.

From one Commission member, we hear the group is leaning toward a festival plaza. OK. With the above-mentioned elevation drop, we’re a cinch to attract something like a Mountain Goat Breeders, Rock Climbers Association or Mountain Biker/Hiker League. Clearing, landscaping and other amenities (whatever those may include) will only tack on to the purchase price.

Our home town has done well in the past with festivals, attracting its fair share of visitors. Questions: Has the Commission identified how a designated plaza will attract more festivals and additional people? Will the same festivals simply continue with new surroundings and roughly the same attendance? Will expenditures on the festival site morph into dollars for local merchants? What will make this plaza uniquely plazaesque?  

And, equally as important in our humble opinion: Once we get ’em here, what else do we have to offer other than a festival? What is uniquely Minden that will make them want to come back or, perhaps, stay?

Festivals aside, our Commission doesn’t seem to have done so hot with conventions, which is part and parcel of the unit’s mission. Several old-timers who’ve seen things come and (mostly) go in our corner of the world say they couldn’t remember any significant gathering of outsiders holding anything called a convention. And, they mentioned, family reunions don’t count.

Our intent is not to unload cold water on this deal, but one has to look behind the curtain. What we see back there are well-intentioned goals, but a substance shortage. We’re asked to share a vision that will put Minden on the map; to look forward. Sounds good, but there’s also a dose of reality that should be considered.

Reality: We may be the only city on the Interstate 20 corridor from Texas to Mississippi that has seen a population decline over four decades. Figures show a 1980 population of just over 15,000; 2020 puts us at 11,928. We’re 14 percent smaller than 1990. We’re showing decline while 94 percent of similarly-sized cities in the U.S. grow. 

Apparently our vision for 40 years has been significantly less than 20/20. Ideas have come and gone, and people have followed. Festivals and visitors have come; taxpaying hometowners have gone. Wonder if visitor/tourist revenue gained has offset that which has been moved elsewhere.

One supporting statement we heard rings true. “If you’re going to progress, you have to make investments.” We won’t disagree. But investments are sometimes a gamble, and this Miller Quarters deal falls squarely into that category. WPCVC is gambling an investment that will ultimately run well over the initial 500 grand will eventually pay off in revenue and visits generated by an as-yet undetermined venue.

“If you build it, he will come,” the voice whispered to Ray Kinsella in the cornfield. We’re not standing in a cornfield, but we could be looking at a bushel of debt with a potential peck of return. 

Rocker would be very interested in comments. Please keep them as civil as our city council meetings.

Who pays roughly a hundred thousand bucks above the appraised value of anything? At negotiating central on Sibley Rd., somebody surely has an answer.

At the risk of rockin’ the chair on the cat’s tail, Rocker and gang would love to hear from deal-makers at the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission the reasoning behind the decision to fork over  a cool half million in a lease/purchase agreement for about 11 acres known as Miller Quarters.

Where we come from, that’s a lotta bucks exchanged for Quarters, especially considering the selling price is way yonder more than the appraised value, which we hear was around 400 thousand. But, friends and neighbors, there’s an upside. 

A source whispered that the negotiators from the WPCVC did talk reps of the Miller-Inabnett family down a few hundred grand from the original asking price which we hear was 800K. That’s a pretty steep asking price for history and progress, or whatever.

We realize we’re no architect, contractor or developer, but that half million is only step one for whatever the Commission envisions for that piece of property located behind the Civic Center/City Hall and bordering the scenic drainage ditch along Sheppard Street. 

Figured into the Commission’s dip into its hotel/motel tax reserve must be clearing of the remaining portion of the crown jewel, architectural plans for the “whatevers” (like walking trails) our planners envision. Also where will hillside parking accommodations be located, along with access and egress. It is, after all, a nice little elevation shift from scenic Sheppard to the HGTV-provided, luxuriously manicured, gazebo/Miller sign/overlook and picnic park.

From one Commission member, we hear the group is leaning toward a festival plaza. OK. With the above mentioned elevation drop, we’re a cinch to attract something like a Mountain Goat Breeders, Rock Climbers Association or Mountain Biker/Hiker League. Clearing, landscaping and other amenities (whatever those may include) will only tack on to the purchase price.

Our home town has done well in the past with festivals, attracting its fair share of visitors. Questions: Has the Commission identified how a designated plaza will attract more festivals and additional people? Will the same festivals simply continue with new surroundings and roughly the same attendance? Will expenditures on the festival site morph into dollars for local merchants? What will make this plaza uniquely plazaesque?  

And, equally as important in our humble opinion: Once we get ’em here, what else do we have to offer other than a festival? What is uniquely Minden that will make them want to come back or, perhaps, stay?

Festivals aside, our Commission doesn’t seem to have done so hot with conventions, which is part and parcel of the unit’s mission. Several old-timers who’ve seen things come and (mostly) go in our corner of the world say they couldn’t remember any significant gathering of outsiders holding anything called a convention. And, they mentioned, family reunions don’t count.

Our intent is not to unload cold water on this deal, but one has to look behind the curtain. What we see back there are well-intentioned goals, but a substance shortage. We’re asked to share a vision that will put Minden on the map; to look forward. Sounds good, but there’s also a dose of reality that should be considered.

Reality: We may be the only city on the Interstate 20 corridor from Texas to Mississippi that has seen a population decline over four decades. Figures show a 1980 population of just over 15,000; 2020 puts us at 11,928. We’re 14 percent smaller than 1990. We’re showing decline while 94 percent of similarly-sized cities in the U.S. grow. 

Apparently our vision for 40 years has been significantly less than 20/20. Ideas have come and gone, and people have followed. Festivals and visitors have come; taxpaying hometowners have gone. Wonder if visitor/tourist revenue gained has offset that which has been moved elsewhere.

One supporting statement we heard rings true. “If you’re going to progress, you have to make investments.” We won’t disagree. But investments are sometimes a gamble, and this Miller Quarters deal falls squarely into that category. WPCVC is gambling an investment that will ultimately run well over the initial 500 grand will eventually pay off in revenue and visits generated by an as-yet undetermined venue.

“If you build it, he will come,” the voice whispered to Ray Kinsella in the cornfield. We’re not standing in a cornfield, but we could be looking at a bushel of debt with a potential peck of return. 

Rocker would be very interested in comments. Please keep them as civil as our city council meetings.


5 thoughts on “Drawn and Quartered?

  1. Occasionally an original vision, however flawed, morphs into something entirely different and more appropriate and enticing. Let us pray that the ultimate use is inspired by The Power infinitely higher than our own.

  2. Another Minden/Webster Parish Boondoggle. Site of the Cozy Movie Theater which was for black folks only. Tie down the picnic tables and God forbid your visit should be after dark. Course it has the advantage of the City Jail being real handy.

  3. There’s a reason why the population is declining and I’m sure the people know why. I wrote a business plan back in 2003 to bring in something awesome for our kids…to keep them at home in Minden. I was reminded of all the previous things “for the kids” had failed, how the pool halls didn’t last, the theater went under due to lack of business, or whatever. My plan included revenues from surrounding areas and reasons for why and how my business would be prosperous and keep the kids active. I was so discouraged. I found that business plan a month ago when I was packing to move out of Minden…

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