We hope at some time Park County’s commissioners abandon the idea of a cafe at the public library.
It appears the commissioners are zeroing in on reaching an agreement with Clark residents Virginia Scott and Luke Foster to reopen the cafe that has sat vacant for a year. That agreement will probably be reached in the coming weeks.
But the deal that is being considered is really a sweetheart deal at a lease of only $250 per month.
That price would be renegotiated after the first six months of operation, but in our opinion local government subsidizing one party is unfair to other restaurant owners.
Commissioner Jake Fulkerson, who serves as an appraiser, said a fair market price in Cody for a fast food restaurant is around $15-$30 per square foot per year.
At the rate of $250 per month, rent for the former Bistro space would amount to nine cents per square foot per year.
In addition, the county would pay for all of the electricity the cafe would use.
That is an incredibly unfair advantage.
Fulkerson also said, “To think we’re going to offer the Bistro at market rates is just never going to happen in our lifetime.”
We, however, agree with commissioner Lloyd Thiel who said, “I’m not here to subsidize a business and cut down somebody’s downtown term.”
It would be convenient and pleasant to have a cafe operating in the public library, but not at other restaurateurs’ expense.
Any restaurant operating in the library has some disadvantages such as only being open during library hours and no street-facing exposure, but that doesn’t mean it should be subsidized.
The commissioners just need to give up on the idea of subsidizing a restaurant at the library and find some other use for that space.