A Night of Courage
When I think back on last night’s borough council meeting, I won’t remember the vote to terminate the lease with Galas at the Guthrie as much as I will the courage two people showed in saying what they had to say.
I won’t go into too much detail at this point about Henry McLin’s passionate (and completely right, in my opinion) dismantling of the problems within the administration of council president John Gerken and borough manager Barb Krebs. I want to let it settle before I add my two cents, but Henry got a deserved standing ovation for laying bare the multitude of problems that eight-tenths of the council seems to want to ignore.
What I find distressing is that people were openly – as in within ear shot of other council members – talking about how Henry will pay a price for this. The bullying tactics of the leadership and some other council members is not a secret. Henry is more than a good person and doesn’t deserve what he may get for simply expressing his opinion. But the word is out there to the general public now. A lot of people have known these things for a long time, but it’s not been broadcast this widely. COngrats, Henry.
As much courage as that took, I really admired Megan McDonald for getting up to speak before the borough voted on the fate of her proposed business on the top floor of the library. She showed amazing professionalism and composure under the circumstances.
I have said it before – my opposition to the plan did not focus on the business filling the third floor. I did have questions about them (and had a few more about the viability of the plan after last night), but continue to believe that they were merely a pawn in a poorly conceived and executed plan by borough leadership.
The borough should not have committed to a five-year lease with many questionable aspects to a business venture conceived in three days. That was one of the key takeaways – Megan (and her sister Tabitha, I suppose since they are partners) came up with the Guthrie Gals business plan in just three days after seeing the possibility of using the entire children’s library. The borough apparently only approached them about putting an extension of the Broken Cookie in the library. That kind of small use had always been planned (and a couple of ventures failed) at the site. But instead of saying, “Whoa, let’s sit back and think about this” when Megan had her idea, the borough rushed to get papers signed without truly vetting any of the details.
That’s not Megan’s fault – she believes in herself and her business. As a government entity, the borough should be more than a landlord trying to get the best deal possible to pay the bills. Yes, the plan may have, as Megan put it, provided a “small sigh of financial release.” But the borough needs more than a sigh right now. It needs a breath of fresh air. A huge gust, even.
I agree with others who said that they hope Megan finds another place downtown for this business plan. But I have a better idea, one I posited on Facebook in the past.
Why not use the Bare Center for this? They have cooking facilities down there. The place is supposed to be for community events. Sure, you may not get weddings and reunions (which would have been interesting, to say the least, with a BYOB policy), but Zumba and cooking classes and father-daughter dancers and mother-daughter tees and library fundraisers would fit perfectly in that space. Maybe Galas at the Guthries takes up a small storefront downtown and rents out the Bare Center on a per-event basis to hold many of the same events they wanted to hold downstairs, including the library fundraisers which could still provide that “small sigh of financial release.”
A logical decision like that from those running the borough would be a breath of fresh air.