Tensions were high at the 4-B Economic Development Board meeting last Thursday.
A proposal to purchase the Palace Theater in downtown Glen Rose failed due to a lack of majority vote from the board, which came on the heels of opinionated discussions from members of the board and audience.
Board member Darrell Best was responsible for presenting the project.
"When you look downtown and see the Palace Theater, that is an opportunity for us," Best said. "I feel like if the Economic Development Corporation doesn't step in and do something we are going to be looking at a ghost town. We are on a downtown spiral. We've got to find something to get it on an upward spiral."
Several individuals in the audience, however, including Glen Rose Mayor Pam Miller and Convention and Visitor's Bureau Director Billy Huckaby, disagreed with Best.
"The city has helped downtown," Huckaby said. "We're talking 40 events a month (at the theater) - there is no way. That's not going to pay your utilities. Hire a manager to help promote downtown. This is a heck of a lot of money to spend."
Board Member Chris Bryant, who also serves on the Glen Rose City Council, thought the investment was worthwhile.
"It's something that could generate money," Bryant said. "This is not the final step. It is a chance to take an economic project people are in favor of and turn it into something positive.
"What do we have for Glen Rose (residents)? What do we have for downtown?" Bryant continued. "Regardless of what it costs…look at the positives."
The conversation, however, was not enough to sway opposition.
"I think you are underestimating the economic impact of Oakdale Park," board president Connally Miller said.
Miller went on to say that he believes the failing businesses in the downtown area in preceding months, including the closing of Anderson's diner and the Longhorn Museum, are a result of bad business plans, not a lack of tourism.
"It's not our job to supplement bad business plans," Miller said.
He went on to say that entrepreneurship is not a good investment.
"Entrepreneurship is a bad bet," Miller said. "Sixty-percent will go out of business within the first five years."
Local business owner Storie Sharp said she disagreed with "bad business plans" in the downtown area.
"I believed in what Glen Rose had downtown," Sharp said. "I would hope that a board that was formed to help economic development would take into consideration the downtown area, too."
Only half the board agreed with Sharp, tying the vote at half for and half against the investment in the Palace Theater. Best, Bryant and Mike Jones voted in favor of purchasing the theater, while Miller, Sue Oldenburg and Ronald Bruce opposed the motion. The motion died.
The board also made a motion to invest in the Land of the Dinosaurs, LLC in the amount of $80,000, which passed unanimously. Barnard's Mill and Art Museum and the Convention and Visitor's Bureau made requests to the board for funding projects, which were taken into consideration. Public hearings for both projects are expected to be held at the board's March meeting