As a youth, well-meaning Scout leaders taught me that talk is cheap. In retrospect, I realize they may simply have been looking for a few minutes of quiet in the midst of two-dozen rowdy boys. As an adult, I’ve discovered that talk can actually be extremely valuable.
Conversely, silence can be frightfully expensive.
Consider what happened last month when the U.S. government (usually the most verbose organization on the planet) stopped talking. About $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts took effect while the executive and legislative branches were on auto-pilot. Even though almost everybody agrees that spending cuts are exactly what America needs, it would have been nice to have somebody talking to ground control as those crucial decisions were made by default.
Let’s consider a local issue to further assess the value of talk in our lives.
For several years, the Pages Lane commercial corridor on the border of Bountiful and Centerville has been in distress. Three of the area’s major tenants have moved north, leaving unsightly vacant buildings behind, negatively impacting remaining for-profit businesses by seriously reducing customer traffic.
Revitalization seemed extremely difficult, if not impossible, because six entities own property along the four block corridor. Some weren’t aware of each other, let alone seeking a shared renewal vision. Then, an invitation to talk came from across the street.
Village on Main business owners have been looking at a vacant gas station and car wash since the day they moved in, so Village owner Steve Terry of Horizon Development Group invited every owner, Realtor, lawyer, and city official with an interest in the corridor to lunch. Nineteen people showed came to the first meeting in September; 22 came to last week’s follow-up meet.
Since then, property owners and Centerville City officials have come to terms on use of the gas station on the northwest corner of the zone. Remodeling will begin in weeks with a new gas n’ go-style business set to open this summer. The long-idle car wash will be razed to ease access, as will a vacant bank nearby. Also, Centerville City clarified some of its zoning requirements, giving developers a better understanding of the leeway they have to remodel their buildings without the need for a significant structural overhaul. Finally, the developers discussed the type of tenants that each hopes to attract and shared leads and suggestions on where and how to find them.
There is still much work to do before the corridor will realize its full commercial potential, but that goal is closer today than it has been in years thanks to a rebounding economy ... and a little bit of talk.