The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Why we need Main Street

  • It is amazing how easily outside interests creep in and try to direct our city's business.
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  • To the editor:
    It is amazing how easily outside interests creep in and try to direct our city's business.
    Three years ago, when my husband and I began researching the potential for opening a laser tag facility in Leavenworth, we met with some interesting resistance.
    When I called the joint Chamber of Commerce to run our ideas past the president, he persistently asked why we wanted to locate in downtown Leavenworth, instead of in Lansing.
    When I called the city official responsible for the city's economic planning, we were told she would find a "suitable" location for our venture for us. Since we had already been examining downtown buildings for the potential to buy and refurbish one—updating it with necessary handicapped accessibility features was going to be the biggest cost, but one we thought was important—we had already located three buildings that were for sale and would be suitable.
    The fact that a city official seemed adamant about determining our store's location halted our plans, since she had the power to ruin our application to the city.
    When I called the director of the Main Street Program, though, I was met with enthusiasm and insightful suggestions about how to develop a cooperative effort between our laser tag facility, which could host birthday parties, and other venues downtown that already hosted such parties.
    The director was excited at my suggestion of a coupon that would allow newspaper purchasers to get a discount on a fun night out—laser tag, dinner, and a movie.
    While some of the restaurant owners were understandably cautious about catering birthday parties for us, the theater owner at the time loved the idea of the discount for an evening out at three Leavenworth venues.
    Now, Leavenworth city officials have big plans for inviting an outside corporate interest into Leavenworth, which should be a boon for those having to attend functions at the Fort, and which should provide some additional service jobs for Leavenworth residents.
    Are these same city officials undermining the Main Street Project out of fears that they will oppose such capital investments that do not directly involve our downtown area?
    Since the Main Street personnel seem to be the only organized body willing to assist small business owners in their investments in the city of Leavenworth, the loss of their assistance and enthusiasm for "selling" Leavenworth (no offense Lansing) to the world will hurt Leavenworth's economy in more ways than one.
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