I had a 1.75 hour chat with Mike Terson yesterday (4/23/2014). The overall outcome was we both decided to agree to disagree.
Mike was proud to say that he was solidly in favor of building a downtown on the BG Golf Course and mainly had all good thoughts about the proposal. He did say it had to be a good plan and not be a strip mall. He wants it to be a “destination” for folks. They could come to downtown to walk around the streets/sidewalks, go to a movie, stop for ice cream and sit and take in the ambiance. It’s possible that the land left over from the downtown project could be used to hold some things like a driving range or other family activities. To save any part of the course (9 holes) would mean rebuilding the course from scratch and that’s very expensive. The current two courses are competing with each and both are losing money. The BG Golf Course has to have millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades (e.g., the watering system has to be completely replaced). Also Mike feels there are too many golf courses in the area and fewer golfers, which leads to a non-profit picture.
Mike bases some of his downtown support on the comments he gets from the “younger” families in BG. He says 17 of 20 tell him they want a downtown. He also says he is looking at improving the future of BG when he supports a downtown. Mike thinks SAVE BG is made up mainly of “Older” residents and our support lies in the immediate area of the Golf Course. I told when we looked at the locations of the online referendum petition signers we found that there were noticeable locations well to the North and South in BG of people who signed the petition. I think he had us pegged as a group with limited expanse and age. He’s banking on the fact the the younger generation doesn’t remember any of the “old BG baggage”. We should be looking toward the future and not hanging on to the past.
When I presented an idea to Mike on not building on the Golf Course or I gave him some contrary viewpoints to his ideas on building the downtown on the Golf course, he said we can’t “not do” a project based on “what ifs’. He said the downtown plan had better be a good idea and plan or he wouldn’t approve it. When I mentioned that other developers may want to provide their proposals on a downtown, Mike said, the idea has been out there for almost two years and no other developers have come forward. I then asked if the Village would issue a call for proposals and he said probably not since the Village could wind up with a bunch of proposals that are widely different and too hard to evaluate.
Mike mentioned our idea of a referendum. He was quick to modify his stand on the referendum that was reported in the 3/15/2011 Patch.com article. In the applicable part of the quote in the Patch he said: “…residents say no to the idea through a referendum, then it isn’t a good idea.” He qualified that yesterday to mean a non-binding referendum (or just a polling of the residents). Mike also said that there could be many discussions and decisions on the downtown proposal done and made outside of an open meeting because land acquisition is one of three topics that are allowed to be worked outside of an open meeting. When I asked why we can’t get simple updates on what is happening he said when the time comes for the Village to make a decision on anything it’ll be done in an open meeting. Sort of when you need to know something, we’ll tell you then and you’ll have a chance to say something.
Mike made some strong comments about SAVE BG. He has hard feelings based on the name and how the organization was formed. SAVE BG to him is name that means BG is going down the drain and needs to be rescued. He also noted that holding a SAVE BG sign up during BG Days bothered him. His feeling is SAVE BG is a group on the outside and the Village leaders won’t accommodate it. If we want to help on the economic development committee we have to not be a member of SAVE BG. I mentioned to him that we expected to see some economic development activity by now and we wanted to provide at least one volunteer to help.
Mike said he was just an ordinary guy and when he wanted to be involved in an issue, he got the”experts” to provide information to him. He quoted several stats to me regarding BG’s lack in providing retail and other services to residents and how much sales tax we were losing each year (several millions) when residents go outside of BG to shop. He also said that even with a TIF the Village would make money because of all the sales tax. Since the BG Golf Course is tax exempt, the TIF will be a wash. When I mentioned we could wind up running candidates for the Board to unseat pro downtown members, he said he had no problem with losing his seat. He would just go back to being an “ordinary guy”.
With all of this, Mike still kept the door open for future meetings if I wanted any.