We all know that the city of Independence has bailed out the Bass Pro development to the tune of $3.5 million (payment March 15) and the city may need to put an additional $4 million into the project in September 2011 and March 2012.

We all know that the city of Independence has bailed out the Bass Pro development to the tune of $3.5 million (payment March 15) and the city may need to put an additional $4 million into the project in September 2011 and March 2012.

What is probably most important at this point is the question of “what is the city doing to correct the problem?”

My last column on this issue sought to raise the question of how payments of $3.5 million and the possible payment of $4 million in the next city fiscal year will impact services. I suspect the annual budget presentation will help answer that question.

Some folks have since asked what we can do to help resolve this problem (besides eating at Cheddar’s, which I understand is very good; the lines have been too long the three times I have tried).

The Bass Pro development, when it was approved several years ago, was well supported by the public. Most people around town know that the economy has been a mess, impacting these kinds of projects. What most people around town do not know is how long this problem will hang around the neck of the city and what can be done about it.

Can we refinance the house mortgage? I get it that the amount we are talking about is a little more than the bank note on my house, but the point is can we get the deal restructured so that the city pays less next year and pushes the payments further out during the term of the agreement?

Can we refinance the bank note? This would decrease the amount due now and buy the city some more time to get the retail stores up and growing. I get it that my son will then be worrying about it (postponing a debt to the next generation has that impact), but this article is about a multi-pronged approach to the problem. If we do not want a $4 million impact on our city services next year we need some relief now.

The lawsuit filed by Bass Pro against the city (that is being used as the excuse to not talk about this topic) is about taxes owed by Bass Pro to the city. Throw in some comments about a missing hotel and you have the nature of the dispute. The city has a good attorney in Steve Mauer. He ought to aggressively seek to get the dispute settled.

The lawsuit was filed last fall. Bass Pro wants to make money, fighting lawsuits defeats that purpose. It would rather be part of a successful development and make money. Steve Mauer’s legal practice is all about settling complex issues so that people can “get back to running their businesses.” This is the kind of problem he is good at handling.  

The city has a very successful Chamber of Commerce (they head up the annual Santa-Cali-Gon Days festival, which brings 250,000 people to the Square). The folks who lead that group are all business people. The chamber exists to support local business and attract new businesses to Independence.

Independence Economic Development has some very smart folks. That group is well funded by the city, and its mission is to bring new businesses to our community.

Let’s gather up all these smart, business-minded folks, whose goal is to help bring businesses to Independence, and ask for their help. Let’s get them focused on the Bass Pro development.

Helping save the city $4 million a year by getting the Bass Pro development up and moving again is the biggest economic development issue in the city today and thus deserves an “all hands on deck” approach.

While I am not an expert in helping bring new retail businesses to Independence, we have folks in town who are. Let’s get them on the “Save Bass Pro” team. Meanwhile I will go stand in line at Cheddar’s so the city sales tax on my meal helps pay for the Bass Pro development, which in turn helps keep cops on my street.

While serving on the City Council, I supported and voted for the Bass Pro project.