Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grace Hall - down but not out

An item on tonight's Agenda for the Woodstock City Council meeting was "Woodstock Christian Life Campus - Adoption of an Ordinance issuing a Special use Permit for the Woodstock Christian Life Services (WCLS) Campus."

My guess is that the bulk of tonight's audience was there tonight to hear about, and to discuss, the proposal to tear down Grace Hall, currently the operations headquarters of the WCLS. Attorney Mark Gummerson represented WCLS and wanted the City Council to split up the issue tonight into two parts: 1) the North and Central portions of the plan and 2) the South portion, which includes Grace Hall. Gummerson asked that the South portion be tabled.

Heck, with all those people in the room to speak against demolition of Grace Hall, we could have been there until noon tomorrow.

The Council didn't really want to do that, so the Mayor asked Gummerson (or Gummerson asked the City Council) about postponing the whole deal. And that's what they did.

There is jargon for that which probably came from some mayoral retreat or conference or seminar - "postpone to time indefinite..." What's wrong with just saying, "postpone at this time"?

It was clear that the City Council favors the plan and wants to move forward on it. Some of them might even be in favor of working hard to preserve the building known as Grace Hall. The Mayor spoke about upholding private property rights. Two councilmen said specifically that they are looking to "make this happen."

When one man spoke against postponement, the mayor was offended and was clearly defensive about any suggestion that the request of WCLS was, in view of a packed City Council chamber, a ploy to move the item to another date, which would require everyone who came out tonight to return on another night.

My thoughts? That resident hit the nail smack on the head. And, if I had been the lawyer for WCLS, that's exactly what I would have done. Buy some time. Move it off a few weeks, like maybe to the night of an early, heavy snow.

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