CREDIT CITY WITH BOHNENKAMP FIX

February 12, 2002 12:00 am

The hole that has existed in downtown La Grande for nearly eight years may be on the verge of being filled. The City of La Grande finally took matters into its own hands by buying the Bohnenkamp property and soliciting proposals for development of the site. Last week the city agreed to sell the property for about half of what it paid for it, but the end result will be a new building rising from the rubble.

The D.W. Sivers Co. will purchase the property from the city for $28,600. Once financing can be finalized and we hope that doesnt take too long the company plans to construct a three-story building that would include retail space on the ground floor and office and residential space above. The companys concept sounds good. Not only will it be a welcome addition and relief to the downtown, but the project should help stimulate greater interest in the core. Developer Dennis Sivers said hes already had inquiries from three potential tenants. Whatever Sivers does with the property is bound to be better than the hole and plywood fence that exist there now.

The property has been a blemish on La Grandes downtown ever since a fire destroyed Bohnenkamp Interiors on April 4, 1994. A variety of factors contributed to the time it took for something to happen with the property. But La Grande City Manager Wes Hare came up with a plan to use urban renewal funds to buy the property. Once that happened, things started moving. The city received two proposals for the property but chose Sivers because it presented a shorter time span for beginning work and didnt rely on low-income housing tax credits or other grants for funding.

We can only hope that Sivers proposal becomes reality. La Grandes downtown has potential, but reaching it wont happen until the holes are filled and the blemishes are removed.

NOT SO BROTHERLY

The City of Brotherly Love isnt living up to its motto. Philadelphia has had a reputation as a tough city for a long time. But theres a difference between being tough and being ugly. Sunday during the NBA All-Star Game, Philadelphias fans were ugly.

The Philly fans, who have been known to boo their own teams, had more jeers than cheers for the NBAs best on Sunday. They pestered one of their own, the Lakers Kobe Bryant, every time he made a move. They showed nothing but disrespect when Bryant was named the games MVP, even though he grew up and played his prep ball in the greater Philadelphia area. And were those boos emanating from the crowd after Elton John finished the first of two songs he performed at halftime?

Groups thinking about booking events in the City of Brotherly Love ought to think twice about doing so until the people there can show some class. As it is, they have none.