Letter: Alphabet soup, bad blood, and other distractions
"Our country is at a point in its history where divisiveness is en vogue. We can't even have an earnest conversation anymore." That quote was from my letter to the editor two months ago.
I arrived at the Select Board meeting Monday eager to have a conversation about the DBA's accomplishments, goals, challenges and organizational structure. I was appreciative of those questions, and did my best to answer them. However, there was also an obvious zeal to debate and proliferate rumors, which was counterproductive to an earnest conversation. If the board was interested in any perceived "bad blood" between our two organizations, why didn't anyone ask BBC the same question? If the board wanted to know the history of our names, why didn't they also preempt the BBC presentation by questioning their new name? Maybe we can have a future discussion about why BCIC and BCRC have similar names, or the difference between the regional education RED Committee and the economic development RED Committee. Let's move on!
What does exist is a difference of opinion about how to prioritize DID funds expenditures. The DBA believes spending a larger portion on marketing is essential. There's about $77,000 in DID funds available, which the BBC spends almost entirely on salaries. Would we rather see more of that money spent on downtown marketing? Yes. But to make that sound like we hate each other, is detrimental to our downtown fabric and the truth. A difference of opinion isn't bad, it isn't counterproductive, and it certainly isn't a reason to take up sides like a schoolyard fight.
Have I criticized the BBC for spending $120,000 on a minuscule park? Yes. But I'm also working with a BBC committee to bring a chalkboard wall to that park project. I also publicly supported the BBC's renewal for downtown designation at a Select Board meeting just last month. Earlier this month, the DBA invited two members of the BBC to a meeting we hosted about a marketing initiative. I'm not sure what else we can do to be good neighbors. French kiss sing Kumbaya?
My preference is to let us get back to work marketing downtown. If the Select Board needs specifics about our proposal or web analytics, we're happy to provide that information. But please, let's have an earnest conversation about marketing downtown.
The writer is the founder of the Downtown Bennington Alliance.
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