News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, JULY 3, 2005


Slow-talking approach by Mr. Kyle works well

As he campaigned for mayor, some smilingly labeled Don Kyle "the slow talker." His speech was always deliberate and carefully weighed, even during the bustle of campaign season.

The mayor's deliberate approach is not limited to speech, a fact underlined during recent negotiations on the sale of the old Decatur Utilities warehouse on Second Avenue Southeast. The prospective buyers, Shelly and Rod Ross, already own Lagniappes, a coffee house and deli that has added much to a struggling downtown.

Mr. and Mrs. Ross did not want to waste time. They had a business plan for an Italian restaurant, and the city-owned DU building was its anchor.

They offered $96,000, the appraised value for property-tax purposes.

Other mayors might have fallen all over themselves in an effort to facilitate the deal. The building is an eyesore, and downtown Decatur is hurting for more businesses.

The mayor believed an up-to-date appraisal was a necessary prerequisite to the sale. He refused to let the buyers dictate the timing of a sale. The appraisal delay, according to Mr. and Mrs. Ross, cost the city a sale.

But Mr. Kyle did right.

First, he was right financially. The appraisal came back at $205,000, more than twice the amount offered. There is no guarantee it will ever sell for that amount, of course, but the discrepancy between the appraisal and the offer was too great to ignore.

Second, and more importantly, his pace was right. Mr. Kyle is not an excitable fellow. His slow-talking demeanor accurately reflects his consistently deliberate approach. It is an approach that no doubt will cost the city some dollars at times. But it is also a pace that does justice to the city he governs.

Decatur is a good city in which to do business. Another downtown restaurant may not knock on our door this year or even next, but it will come.

Just as the potential for profit caused developers to persist in their efforts to locate a Target-anchored shopping center in Decatur, this city will also attract other developers.

Mr. Kyle will cause frustration. His approach is at odds with the rapid-fire pace that developers and entrepreneurs prefer. But more times than not, The Slow Talker's deliberate approach will serve the city well.

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