Thursday, February 16, 2006

Eminent Domain in Ridgecrest

The main intersection in downtown Ridgecrest is where Ridgecrest Blvd and China Lake Blvd. cross. Traffic at this intersection is controlled by a stoplight. There are two through lanes and a turn lane in all four directions. This intersection is essentially the center of town.

Three of the corners at this intersection contain shopping centers. The Bank of America in on the fourth corner.

The Northwest corner used to house a Mobile Gas Station, a night club and a couple small shops. A few years ago the small shops were bulldozed and the Mobile Station went out of business. The night club, JDs, was the place to party 20 years ago when I moved here. But it has been closed for several years. This corner has rapidly turned into one of the ugliest corners in town. A run down night club, a boarded up gas station and several cement slabs just aren't most people's ideas of a thriving business center.

There have been several rumors about different businesses developing that corner. For about a year folks were thinking that a Marie Calendar’s was going in there. Then last year it was going to be a Walgren's Drug story. Marie's never happened. Actually it never started. Walgren's bought some property about a mile north and built there instead. Now the latest rumor is that Rite-Aid wants that corner.

Now here is the problem. Rite-Aid wants to buy the property on that corner and put in a store. However the owner of the building that has the old nightclub in it wants a lot of money for his property. This situation is complicated by the fact that they backside of old nightclub contains a Chinese restaurant. This restaurant in one form or another had been in business there for over 20 years.

Since Rite-aid and the property owners have not been able to reach an agreement for sale the City Council has been asked to exercise Eminent Domain and force the existing property owners to sell their property so that the city can sell it to a different business.

Most of the people I have talked to in town all agree on two things. We would really like to see that corner cleaned up. But we all really disagree with the idea of taking away a person’s property so that another private business can have their spot.

This situation is even more ludicrous because we already have a Rite-aid here is town, just a mile up the road in the main city shopping center.

I have seen several letters to the editor of the newspaper claiming that they will not shop in the new Rite-aid if they acquire the property via eminent domain. I will be one of the citizens in town who will not patronize any business that uses Eminent Domain to get their property. Additionally, I will immediately stop supporting any member of the city council that votes for such an anti-American action. I already cast my School Board votes for anyone who doesn’t have the word incumbent next to their name. I can always do the same with the City Council.

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