On one of the hottest days of the year, the Conway City Council was thinking about Christmas.
More specifically, the mayor and the aldermen were thinking about a Christmas tree. Not just any tree, mind you, but a 54-foot tree that would be placed in Rogers Plaza during the holiday season. The holiday décor could be visible from Interstate 40 and would be another jewel in the crown that is the revitalization of Downtown Conway.
Oh, and it could cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $130,000 … that’s where we pause for effect.
We certainly can understand the desire to “go big” in an effort to bring more people in Conway downtown and bring more people from out of town to Conway. Having what some people are calling the largest Christmas tree in the state would definitely be a draw, part of the whole “if you build it, they will come” concept. And anything that increases business during the holidays, while giving the city something else to feel proud about, cannot be bad at all.
But, and we’re not trying to come across as Scrooges here, did anyone see this coming?
If a family got together and decided to buy the largest Christmas tree on the block, but it might mean that little Timmy wouldn’t be able to get his Xbox, wouldn’t the family sit down and talk about it?
It looks like the money would come from sales tax revenue and possibly a partnership with the Advertising & Promotion Commission, but only a few months ago, money was to be considered for bronze statues at various parks. What would little Timmy think about that?
The amount threw us a little, and the fairly quick nature of the approval gave us some concern as well. This is the same group who has admittedly been irresponsible with city funds in the past. Now that things are in a better place financially, do we really think that the image of the city paying a large amount of money on a Christmas tree is something that will play with the public at large?
Last year’s tree, with its constant threat of toppling over, was a conversation piece for all the wrong reasons. This would be an LED-lit, steel-constructed masterpiece, useful for decades to come, so believe us when we say that we understand the notion. But wouldn’t a grassroots effort involving businesses and citizens alike be something the city could rally around?
It certainly looks like this will happen, and we will be in line with our scarves and toboggans ready to sings carols and get in the spirit, but we will wonder if in-his-final-term Mayor Tab Townsell isn’t giving out one too many Christmas presents before he heads out the door.