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KETR News Director Mark Haslett’s multimedia blog about Northeast Texas and the world.

Kerfuffle Over Proposal Dampens Christmas Cheer In Greenville

The property on King Street will remain up for sale.
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When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, 

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter

--Clement Clarke Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

Over in Greenville, creatures have been stirring over a proposed purchase of some real estate by the city government. At the December regular meeting of the Greenville city council, elected officials chose to postpone a vote on whether to buy the property. It looks as if the matter will be given a short winter’s nap, to be revisited in the near future, presumably after the holidays. The Herald-Banner reported that the council voted to host a public forum on the matter, at a yet-unspecified time and place, before making a final decision on the proposed purchase.

The property in question is the old Safeway building, which most recently housed a Migalito’s Supermercado, located at 2601 King Street, on the southwest side of downtown. The city would would either renovate or destroy the existing building before constructing office space for a new municipal complex. An estimate from a consulting firm, KSA of McKinney, placed the cost of the project at anywhere from $3.6 million to $5 million, depending on what the city chose to do.

Despite the chubby and plump price tag for such a project, the proposal was little-known in Greenville until last Friday, when the city published the agenda for the Dec. 11 regular meeting of the city council. The agenda included a measure for the city to buy the property on King Street for $475,000. The agenda did not include a rationale for the purchase.

Meanwhile, having already been intrigued by rumors of the purchase, the Herald Banner flew like a flash to figure out why the city would want an old grocery store building. Some asking around eventually yielded the report from KSA, which was detailed in an article published last Saturday.

Response to that article was lively and quick. Of course, social media provided the main arena for reactions. Many felt that the plan had been kept secret, as it had not been an agenda item in previous council meetings, nor had the city presented the matter to the public on the city website or in any other online or printed format. Some local officials countered that two weeks before, the city attorney had given council members permission to discuss the plan with the public. Locals responded that giving council members permission to talk about the proposal was a rather oblique way to present an obviously important matter the public.

Last night’s council meeting featured some prancing and pawing over whether the plan had been made public in a meaningful way or not. Some members of the community accused local officials of reindeer games, while those same officials assured those present they had nothing to dread. Considering the hard feelings present, the move to table the vote was surely the best choice.

Don’t dash away from this page before hearing Herald-Banner editor Kristal Kuykendall describe her experience over the past few days with this story.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.
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