- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After much deliberation, I am resigning from the La Plata Town Center Corporation. Although I support the mission of the corporation, my long-term struggles with the current town staff and officials have made me rethink my current position on this project.
I’d like to thank the members of the corporation for their friendship and many of the members who have reached out to me during our struggles with the town.
However, the current town agenda is not in line with my own business plans for Island Music Co. and is creating a conflict of interest for me. After much consideration, I have decided that what is most important is my business, and by growing and improving my business I can best improve the La Plata community.
As many of you know Island Music has had multiple unfavorable interactions with the town over the signage regulations. These include having signage cut down from our building without due process, harassment of our employees and contractors to “pass on” messages and sign violation tickets and an overwhelming feeling of being targeted for even the most minor of infractions. I cannot currently encourage other businesses to move to La Plata and invest in their growth here with the current guidelines and culture within our town government. Within our industry, Island Music is seen as a leader, innovator and a great success story. But within La Plata, we are treated as disorderly rule-breakers.
I have been told, by my elected officials, to rewrite these regulations myself, in my free time, I suppose. But I am appalled and offended at this request. We elect our officials to be our voice, not delegate out their responsibilities. My job is to create a thriving business that draws customers from all around the country into our town.
Island Music has been named a NAMM Top 100 Dealer in the country for two years in a row. We are a Top 10 Affiliate for band and orchestra rentals in the country and are regionally recognized as one of the largest independent music stores on the East Coast. Nationally recognized artists and manufacturers come to La Plata to do business with us. I am doing my part to promote La Plata and will continue to do so, even in the face of ridiculous opposition.
I would like to challenge at least one of our elected officials to see the forest through the trees. They talk of a “vision” where La Plata has a thriving downtown with shopping, pedestrians and curb appeal. But they are putting our tax money into enforcing petty sign regulations that disallow retail businesses to promote their goods and services and create atmosphere.
Why not spend this time and money to rewrite the regulations to better fit the vision? Undoubtedly conflicts will arise, and mistakes will be made. But any step in the right direction is better than taking no steps at all. The business community will applaud anyone who at least tries. If we do the same things tomorrow that we did today, we will know what to expect in the future — status quo or worse.
It takes a certain amount of a rebellious nature to change things to make a difference.
Keith Grasso, La Plata