I describe my town of Pleasant Grove as a “small town.” And it definitely has a small town feel. But, actually, it’s not that small. It has a couple hundred miles of roads. And we have about 40,000 residents.
Still, feels like a small town. . .and not always in a good way. Small town sometimes means small minded. There are have been two examples this past week that reminded me that not everyone is as. . .well. . .sane as I claim to be.
First, my town has Facebook pages that are dedicated to town issues. They have names like Ask Pleasant Grove and “Pleasant Grove Pride. Mostly, they are filled with posts from people who are new. That are looking for a good chiropractor. Or, someone found a lost dog and posts a picture. Or, someone asks a city council member why garbage day changed from Wednesday to Thursday (still haven’t gotten a straight answer.)
This week, though, someone in Pleasant Grove Pride posted a “petition.” The change.org petition was to request that a local company (TestOut) be required to vacate downtown so that boutique shops could move in and we could have a “cute” historic looking downtown with lots of adorable shops.
Two pieces of information for context. First, Pleasant Grove’s downtown is about 2 blocks long by a block wide. It has the fire station, the police station, the city park, the printers, a Cupcake place and a couple of other shops. The rest of the buildings are owned by TestOut. TestOut makes testing software. They have slowly expanded their footprint downtown until they own an entire city block. That’s a lot of space in a small town.
Second thing is Pleasant Grove downtown has very little parking. And not much walk up traffic. We have a summer festival called Strawberry Days (the longest running city festival in Utah.) But, other than Strawberry Days, there’s not a lot of people in our downtown.
I was shocked. Someone thought it would be a good idea to kick out a company that has spent YEARS in my little town, hiring local people, eating in local restaurants, and instead have “other companies” move in.
There was no explanation of where these companies would come from. Nor how the business model would work. Just the idea of clearing out TestOut to “make room” for these cute Mayberry businesses.
I’m really hoping the folks at TestOut don’t monitor the local forum.
The second story was in Ask Pleasant Grove. Someone sold a bunch of land that is is up against our mountain. A local citizen asked why the city would allow this land to be sold. This wasn’t public land. This was one private entity selling to another private entity. And yet people wanted to know why “the city” would allow such a thing.
A member of the city council pointed out that 1: the city council didn’t prevent people from selling private property. And 2: more importantly, the land wasn’t even in city limits.
Again, someone felt that it would be a good idea to prevent private owners from selling their own property. There was no suggestion that THESE people wanted to buy the property. And no suggestion they these people would sacrifice THEIR OWN property. But, they were perfectly willing to allow the city to take someone else’s property.
I might expect it in someplace like Seattle or Portland or San Francisco. But, here in Utah, we are a pretty conservative bunch. Socialism is a dirty word here. We are those Conservatives clinging to our bibles and guns.
And yet, my fellow citizens were more than willing to force government to tell private businesses how to run and tell citizens what they could do with their private property.
It seems pretty clear that even in red state Utah, people are interested in telling other people how to run their lives.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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