Letter to the Editor: ‘CRC and city show lack of respect for local businesses’

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Dear Editor,

I am contacting you in regard to the imminent demolition of the grain elevator.

I am manager of Club Canine Doggie Daycare & Boarding, which literally shares a parking lot with the recently much-debated grain bin. It sits in our “back yard”, so to speak. We lease the space that Club Canine operates in and have been in this location for 5 1/2 years.

The owner, Kera Slowitsky, has worked on her own to build this business from the ground up; and I joined her in helping build and run it two years ago. We are not a franchise dog daycare with corporate money behind us nor do we have any investment partners to help us through slumps, bad economies, temporary competition, etc. It is us and our clients. So things that impact our business on a daily basis are a BIG deal.

In the past few months, we have read articles about the mayor’s plan to redevelop the entire area along the Monon that runs behind our business; but upon research and phone calls to the commission, were told it was a long way off and nothing had been approved. The day there were construction crews in the parking lot tearing down part of the building *around* the grain bin, I called the city and the redevelopment commission and inquired about what was going on. I was again told that nothing had been approved and that the only thing going on what the removal of asbestos. Keep in mind, through all of these months and this process, the only information we received on something that will directly impact our daily operations was what we went digging for or articles that clients sent us or that we found ourselves. We were NEVER contacted for any reason. Not for our opinion (though we all know the CRC cares not about anyone’s opinions), not for any type of notice, warning, heads-up, general information. Nothing.

Today Matt Worthley, operations manager for the Carmel Redevelopment Commission dropped by our business FOR THE FIRST TIME to simply let us know that “in the next three days and continuing for a month” will be the demolition of the grain bin. THREE DAYS’ NOTICE. Three days notice for something that could put us out of business. Three days to figure out how to inform every single client of what will be going on outside of our business, that many come to daily, for a month. When asked why we were only given three days notice, the answer given was simply that we could have attended the public CRC meetings … When asked why it is being torn down NOW when the plan to actually redevelop the area has not even been approved, the answer was sort of a shrug of the shoulders.

This is just more of how the redevelopment commission has absolutely no respect for anyone or anything around them. Not the people of Carmel SCREAMING for the city to stop putting them in more dire debt, not the people who don’t want the grain bin torn down, not the businesses along the area that will be ruined (even though the area has been called “abandoned” in the news reports).

On average, we have 35-40 dogs per day that stay with us from around 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and a number of dogs (usually between 5-10) who stay to board each night. The impact from constant noise and horrific air quality from demolition will be devastating to our clients’ dogs and as a result, to our business — the business my boss has worked night and day to build for 5 1/2 years. Our outdoor yard, which the dogs have constant access to for play and to “do their business” is virtually next to the grain bin (across the parking lot). The environment we would be exposing our clients’ dogs to for a month is unacceptable.

What does that mean? That we, as RESPONSIBLE business owners with respect for our clients will be informing them of the impact (unlike anyone with the city of Carmel of the CRC did for us), and let them make informed decisions on whether or not to bring their dogs here on a daily basis in those conditions. What do you think they will decide? One month of even half of our normal clients bringing their dogs on a daily basis, yes, will put us out of business. Again, we aren’t a franchise or backed by investors. The immediate impact will be bad enough. We are a small business that relies on our daily clients to stay open and succeed. If we could even survive that, the long-term impact of “just one month” is that those clients who *need* to take their dogs to daily daycare for whatever reason, will need to find an alternative in order for their dogs not to be exposed to unhealthy, stressful conditions. The likelihood that they will put their dog through a change in daily routine at one point and then change BACK is very slim.

Three days’ notice is not enough time to figure out how to offset this situation for our business. Three days. We cannot move a business – even temporarily – to another location that took months to build-to-suit for our daily operations. We are not an office that can do business anywhere. We have a $6,000 rubber floor in our nearly 5,000 square-foot playroom for the safety of the dogs. We have two office areas and a back room area. We have airlocks in two places for safety measures getting dogs in and out at drop-offs and pick-ups. We have a separate back area with 10 built-in kennels where boarding dogs stay every night. We have an outdoor 7.5-foot fence that also goes 2 feet into the ground to keep dogs from jumping over or digging under. We have 6-inches of pea gravel for sanitary purposes. We have a custom-built back gate to keep the dogs securely in, but can be quickly opened in an emergency. And we have many, many clients who depend on us and our facility to care for their dogs and keep them safe on a daily basis.

These are not features that can logistically be put somewhere else with three days’ notice. The CRC and the city’s absolute lack of respect for the businesses that are located here but may not be part of their updated, newly redeveloped idea of what Carmel *should* be is shameful – and is going to put us out of business. Not that they care, but someone needs to stand up for the small businesses that built this city and continue to *try* and thrive here.

I am hoping that you will see this situation as one that needs some light shed on it — and quickly — because we are surely not the only small business that is being negatively affected by the way the Carmel Redevelopment Commission is operating on the behalf of the city of Carmel.

Thank you for your time,

Holly Anderson
Manager, Club Canine
www.ClubCanine.info

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