Chamber members question motives of Green Park alderman

To the editor:

Alderman Judy Betlach claims that the Green Park Chamber of Commerce is giving gifts to City Hall in order to get preferential treatment from the Board of Aldermen.

Let’s be perfectly clear — the chamber has never asked for anything free from City Hall and the only chamber issue that has been before the Board of Aldermen in recent history was some minor revisions to the special-event and sign code — window signs in particular.

Interestingly enough, when it was determined that the existing code was unfair to the small businesses in Green Park, it was Alderman Betlach who made the motion to send the sign code back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review and revision.

So what “schmoozing” is Alderman Betlach referring to — the chamber’s community-relations efforts?

When the chamber donated a 25-foot flag pole and U.S. flag to the citizens of Green Park, Alderman Betlach was there for refreshments and publicity photos.

When the chamber sponsored the city’s 10-year anniversary, with every Green Park resident invited to attend, Alderman Betlach was there for the entertainment, door prizes and food donated by virtually every restaurant and grocery store in Green Park.

When the chamber held its annual awards banquet to honor Citizen of the Year, Business Person of the Year and award five scholarships to Green Park students, Alderman Betlach was there to enjoy the food, entertainment and door prizes once again donated by Green Park businesses.

And yes, it is true that for the last three years, in the spirit of Christmas, the chamber has a tradition of donating holiday baskets to City Hall as a small token of appreciation for all of the work they do on behalf of everyone who lives and works in Green Park. This year’s $25 baskets of assorted candy, popcorn and hot chocolate were made possible by a donation to Lindbergh High School’s Junior Achievement program.

Alderman Betlach has never returned any of her holiday baskets to the chamber.

So what is Alderman Betlach’s motive for attacking the chamber? She has been an alderman for at least six years. And for the last two years, the Board of Aldermen has been discussing plans to improve the safety of Green Park Road. Even Alderman Betlach agreed that this dangerous, hilly road with exposed ditches and no curbs or sidewalks could use some attention. The mayor even applied for and received a federal grant to pay for 80 percent of the project, saving major dollars for Green Park taxpayers.

Alderman Betlach has been heavily involved in this planning process from the very beginning, but when she recently found out that sidewalks would be installed on the south side of the road, she abruptly pulled her support for the project.

Now guess where Alderman Betlach lives — the south side of Green Park Road. Apparently your alderman does not want you, your children, bicycles, strollers or even wheel chairs to use a sidewalk in front of her home.

She would rather sabotage a major street and safety improvement that will cost the city a mere 20 percent of the total project than allow her neighbors a sidewalk to safely travel this dangerous road.

Alderman Betlach says it’s time for a change, and we agree.

Instead of questioning the community-relations programs of the Chamber of Commerce, Alderman Betlach should be concerned with the safety of all of the families of Green Park and all who have to travel that dangerous street known as Green Park Road instead of looking for preferential treatment for her own home.

James Smoot, chamber president

Mike Saracino, chamber senior vice president

Rich Baseler, chamber vice president