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To the editor:
My name is Bob Malcom. I am a past president and currently a voting board member of the Ringgold Outdoor Alliance.
I would like to start off by stating that this letter is in no way any type of official notice on behalf of the ROA or any of its members, and is only my personal thoughts on a current situation.
I would like to address rumors that are circulating regarding the Ringgold Outdoor Alliance basketball court/volleyball court area and any future plans of Greater Regional Healthcare. First off, and please keep this in mind for the duration of this letter, at no time has anyone from Greater Regional contacted the president of the ROA expressing interest in purchasing our lot for the purpose of constructing a new pharmacy.
Let me give you a brief background on that lot and bring you up to speed. Many years ago one of our members felt that other than the teen center and Princess Theater (on movie nights) there really wasn’t much for kids up on the square to do and came up with the idea of a sand volleyball court. Paul Ramsey owned the lot, gave us his blessing, and the ROA installed it. A couple of years ago we developed the idea of moving the volleyball court east and adding a ½ court basketball court after watching kids struggle with ball control at the Ayr Days 3 on 3 tourney. I drew up scaled out drawings which were approved by the board and then by the Mount Ayr city council. We were in the process of fundraising when Greater Regional announced their plans for the area where their current facility sits.
The ROA decided to put our improvements on hold until after GR was finished with demolition/construction since it would be extremely difficult for all of their construction activities to take place without damaging our items. GR tried to buy our lot from the Ramsey Foundation (who told them no) and then tried to buy it directly from the ROA and we told them no. They wanted to turn it into a parking lot. We told them of our future plans for the lot including putting those plans on hold to facilitate their construction.
They not only understood, but were grateful to us for allowing them use of our lot during their construction and asked to see a copy of what our final plan was; even going so far as to say they would be interested in assisting us financially in return for our lot use favor.
We allowed their construction company to use our parking lot to set up their job trailer for the duration of construction, after being promised that upon completion they would re-grade and add new rock since we were not charging them any kind of rent. Of course, all of this was done via phone conversations and virtual handshakes, with nothing written out and signed.
Upon completion and as soon as it was dry enough, the construction company removed their trailer, made no improvements, and added no rock. We’ve yet to receive so much as an official thank you from anyone – let alone any offers of financial help to aid in our project as promised.
We recently received a letter from GR once again expressing interest in purchasing our lot. Coincidentally, it came about one week AFTER the concrete for the basketball court was poured. The only thing it mentioned was “an interest in purchasing your lot” – and made no mention of future intentions. We assumed it was still for parking.
There is another portion of the rumor currently circulating: that the ROA is doing things intentionally to inhibit Greater Regional due to the wife of one of our board members working for the Mount Ayr hospital. If this were true we would not have been as cooperative with them during their construction as we were. You don’t need much construction experience to visualize how difficult it would have been for them had we fenced off our lot AND our parking lot and made them contain their construction activities to their property alone. We did the exact opposite.
I understand that we need whatever businesses and jobs we can get. And we need more businesses on or near the square. And the ROA does not create any jobs. We are a 100 percent volunteer 501c3 operation. I realize we could probably do more than we do, but we operate on a very limited budget since we only have one fundraiser per year, our annual fall banquet, and as already stated we are completely volunteer.
All of us have regular jobs, families, and other commitments to attend to.
There are currently several buildings in town that would serve the purpose of a pharmacy. The sand volleyball court has been there for quite some time now, and it gets used more than most people realize. I feel that the basketball court will get used as much, if not more.
It was started because someone saw a need for it and had an idea to help give kids something to do where it’s lit up, highly visible, and less likely for them to be doing things they shouldn’t be doing since they know law enforcement (or a coach or parent) could drive by at any time.
I honestly don’t know for sure where all of this hoo-hah is coming from, but just like on a date – no is no. It does not matter who wants to build a pharmacy – whether it be Greater Regional, Hy Vee, our own hospital, or any other outside venture, the ROA lot is not for sale. Our plan for this area has been in place for a long time and is only now beginning to come to be. I feel this area will be used for many years to come and hopefully enjoyed by all.
The people who know me know what I stand for. I’m always one of the first ones to raise my hand to help, I don’t lie, and I firmly believe that a person’s word should be as good as any legal document – even though I know it’s not. I do hope that someone figures out this pharmacy mess and steps up to the plate soon to fix it. Just not on the ROA lot.
I would like to thank everyone who appreciates what the ROA does and will continue to do. Our fall banquet is on Saturday October 5. We could really use the help this year so please come. Our community building is very close to being operational, although we are still about $5,000 short of being able to complete the large handicapped accessible (covered) front porch on the south end. That may have to be a “next year” project. Until that gets completed, the west door will be the main entryway and it will also be handicap accessible. We still need to install the fencing and lighting for the BB/VB court areas to complete that, and a couple of our sound system speakers are in dire need of replacement.
I felt it was important for everyone to know not only the current situation but also the history in order to make an informed decision on what to believe. Thank you,
Bob Malcom, Mount Ayr