By Stacy Walenter
As the decision of whether or not to sell Second Street to Town Pump divides the community of Troy, Mayor Dallas Carr has decided to create a survey to poll citizens about their views.
Carr sees the survey as an opportunity to give a voice to those who have not yet shared their views or are not comfortable with public speaking at council meetings.
“I want to hear what people have to say,” Carr said during an interview on April 5. “Not everyone likes to get up in front of people and talk.”
The City of Troy first posted the poll on the City’s Facebook page. Tracy Rebo, City Clerk and administrator of the page, said she posted the survey on Tuesday, March 27 and was instructed to take it down on Friday, March 30.
Carr said he heard that former Troy residents responded to the online poll. He believes that people who grew up here and return for visits deserve to have some input.
Carr said he had Rebo remove the poll from Facebook on Friday because voting had slowed down.
The post received a total of 240 votes. Rebo and Carr, in separate interviews, said that 69% of votes were in favor of selling Second Street and 31% were against it.
The post had roughly 28 comments when it was taken down, but those comments also featured rebuttals and replies, resulting in an approximate total of 90 comments. Rebo estimated that the comments differed from the poll percentages and were about 50% for and 50% against the sale.
Carr said that visits to his office also total roughly half for and half against the sale.
Carene Cratty, Owner of True Blue in Troy and a vocal opponent to the closing of Second Street, was disheartened by the removal of the online poll because it disappeared just as she was about to post her views, which she had spent an hour preparing.
“I feel like they pulled it due to truths that were being stated,” Cratty said during an interview on April 5. “Maybe the truth hurts and they didn’t want people to read all that.”
Cratty, who is a lifetime Troy resident, said that she loves Troy, likes Town Pump, and is all for Town Pump’s expansion, as long as it doesn’t include closing Second Street.
“The way the city is doing it could open us up for problems down the line,” she said. “The city has no business making any deals with Chuck Curtiss. We don’t even know for sure if he really is the owner of Pine Tree Plaza.”
Cratty’s friend Barb Pence is for the sale.
“We are talking about a very small portion of one street and the benefits to the city with increased tax revenue and utilities alone, in my opinion, make it worth the change to the street,” Pence wrote in response to a Facebook post by Cratty. “Town Pump is offering to take care of more much needed improvements to the town that I think we all love. Troy probably won’t be offered this kind of opportunity again anytime soon.”
“We don’t need Town Pump to clean our messes. We need our city leaders to clean up the city’s messes,” Cratty responded.
In addition to the online poll, the city included a paper copy of the survey with residents’ power bills.
Cratty believes the list of pros and cons was slanted and believes it was not exhaustive for either side. Carr concurs that both lists could have had additional points. He admits that he penned the list on his own, but that the list came from what he knows and from citizens’ concerns brought to him directly in the mayor’s office.
Carr believes the survey was a better option than a vote because a vote would be limited to residents within the city limits.
“Just because [some residents] live outside of town doesn’t mean their thoughts don’t matter,” Carr said.
Even some residents who are on city power and received the survey are technically outside of city limits and would not be eligible to vote.
Carr worries that many people are against the expansion because they still believe a casino will be added. He wished to reiterate that there will never be a casino. Should a deal be made, the prohibition of a casino forever will be explicitly stated. A casino is also illegal because of Town Pump’s proximity to churches and Troy High School.
“I can’t believe bringing in another casino would help the town,” Carr said. I’m adamantly against it. Darren [Coldwell] was against it and the council is against it.”
“It’s not a good time for the town,” Carr said. “We don’t have the mines, or the logging, or the tax base. When the Department of Environmental Quality leaves, that will be another $18,000 gone from the city. If the survey goes one way or the other, we still have to see what will be best for the future of the town and the people.”
Anyone who did not receive a survey but would like to vote can stop by City Hall in Troy.. Tracy Rebo could not estimate how many paper surveys have already been submitted because returned surveys are put into a lockbox.
Carr plans to assemble a committee unaffiliated with the city to count the surveys and compile the optional written comments. He would not give an official deadline for returning the surveys, but suggested people get them in sooner rather than later.
Carr said he maintains an open door policy and is happy to visit with residents and answer questions. Interested citizens can also attend the city council’s work meeting on Wednesday, April 11 or the regular meeting on Wednesday, April 18.