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Bainbridge Town Council expresses concern over sale of Bon Ton

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BAINBRIDGE -- Town council members Bonnie Osborn and Richard Cope expressed concern over the closing of the 73-year-old Bon Ton Restaurant that was put up for auction recently.

"I'd like to comment on the demise of the Bon Ton. I'm representing several concerned citizens who are concerned and want to do something. We're not sure what we can do, but we wanted to bring it to the Town Council's attention," said Joe Hess.

Hess' father Gene opened the original Bon Ton 73 years ago. It burned down a few years after he left the restaurant business. He built the building that the restaurant operates out of now in 1947.

"I don't want to see it turned into apartments. I'd like to see it kept as a restaurant. That would be better for the community," said Hess.

Cope responded by saying, "I won't approve zoning to turn it into apartments. It is zoned B-3 and that means no multi-family dwellings or single residences. If the new owners want to turn it into apartments, I'll vote against it," he said.

Everyone attending the meeting agreed it would be a shame to not have the restaurant that has been a landmark in the town and were hopeful that any new owners would keep the business.

"The Bon Ton has been a vital part of Bainbridge. We all hate to see it go," said Town Clerk Jason Hartman.

Town Marshal Rodney Fenwick gave an update on the computer system and hook-up to the Emergency Operations Center. Both the laptop used in the patrol car and the computer system in the office are up and running.

Fenwick expects the system to be completed and in use early next year.

The laptop will allow police officers to have access to search warrants, out of state warrants, vehicle warrants and will eventually even write tickets.

Fenwick also presented quotes to the council for equipment for the patrol car for $3,960.45. This would include radio system installment equipment, computer base, mountings, system software, digital ID display, programming and a three-year warranty. These fees will come out of the 2009 budget as they will not be put in until next year.

Some discussion took place about changing the job title of the Town Employee to Community Improvement Officer or even All Purpose Employee. Name suggestions were presented to the town council to consider at Wednesday nights meeting.

Under old business, an ordinance for abandoned vehicles and what should be included in it was discussed. Hartman reported that 32 vehicles with expired or no plates have been counted so far.

Council members discussed what should be included in the ordinance concerning trailers.

"Most people don't plate their boat trailers or campers until they are ready to use them so a lot of the plates are expired," stated Fenwick.

Council members asked the town attorney to look into adding something to the ordinance in time for the first reading at the January meeting.

Hartman reported on a countywide animal control meeting that took place earlier this month. He noted that Sheriff Steve Fenwick told the group he was hiring two employees at the first of the year whose job would be animal control

He also offered to have inmates from the county jail do maintenance and upkeep at the Humane Shelter. They would work on a daily basis and would be supervised by sheriff deputies.

"This would certainly help the Humane Shelter. They would have free labor and that will save some money," said Hartman.

The town council decided to table approving the ordinance they have been working on for a few months until they see what the county decides to do.

"I think we should hold off until March to give them a chance to move forward with a plan. If they don't, we'll go ahead and move forward on our own," said Cope.

Council members also discussed the nuisance properties in town. They have contacted County Planner Kim Hyten who serves as the Building Commissioner for Bainbridge. Working with Hyten is the next step in getting the properties cleaned up.

The Bainbridge Town Council meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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The Bon Ton has shuffled hands of several owners for many years. If they want to turn it into apartments let them be. Bainbridge pisses more money on useless crap then any town I know. Why does Barney Fife need anymore equipment to patrol Bainbridge? The only crimes going on in Bainbridge is jaywalkers!

-- Posted by 1stamendrights on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 11:58 PM

The Bon Ton is a landmark of Bainbridge and it is very sad to see it close. I do not think that it changing hands makes any difference. Lots of restaurants are sold often and still stay as restaurants.....it is the nature of the business. However, no one was willing to buy it outright or at the highest bid to keep it a restaurant! I do not agree in making it apartments...most of the downtown is made up of them and it is VERY SAD! I do hope the new owner or someone else will keep it a restaurant.....

-- Posted by John3:16 on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 7:22 AM

Although being a resident of Bainbridge for many years I have or had never frequented the Bon Ton. Most people I speak to know very well of the fantastic food and atmosphere it gave. To bad. I don't think we need anymore apartments in Bainbridge. I guess what ticks me off is all this new equipment that we seem to continually be buying??? How many bucket trucks do we need Jim??

-- Posted by bearcat on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:15 PM

To "1stamendrights".Awww,give old Rod the money for new cop toys.At least he's not driving a $28,000.00 new Dodge Charger.And he got $10,000.00 after the car for his new cop toys.

-- Posted by gameon on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:28 PM

If Mr. Hess is so concerned about The Bon Ton,then why didn't he buy it when it was for sale?Isn't he on the board at Tri County Bank?How hard would it have been to get a loan IF needed?Action speaks louder than words Mr. Hess.

-- Posted by ilovewhites on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:34 PM

The town council seemed to have nothing to try and stop the auction of the Bon-Ton, so they decide to complain about it after the fact? The Bon-Ton has been for sale for years. It obviously wasn't making any money or someone would have bought it sooner.

-- Posted by bobbittle on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:37 PM

The Bon Ton is a huge part of Bainbridge history. Seems like the best way to have kept it open is if there was so much business there that someone would have bought it. Hate to see it close, but at the same time, I hated to see the old Marathon gas station just be turned into a repair shop. Add to the Hanks Grocery and the Bob Kat grocery store closing too as sad reminders of established, historic business closing in town also.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 8:40 PM

These apartments got to be better then the clown who owns the old bobcat!

-- Posted by 1stamendrights on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 9:47 PM

So who bought the Bon-Ton anyway. And why didn't all of you hypocrites get together and purchase the restaurant years ago or even the day of the sale. And I don't think I would be admitting in print that I won't "vote" for turning it into apartments. Not a smart thing to do. Oh, Bainbridge, what is all the fuss about. I don't think the apartments would look all that bad situated between the old bob-kat and that building you call a service-repair shop. That's god-awful to see when you go through Bainbridge, not only for its local residents but visitors passing through. So all of you high and mighty, snot-nosed, self rightous people who sit there and say after the fact, that I won't vote for that and I don't want to see if turned into apartments leave it all alone. You should have outbid the winning bidder.

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 2:20 PM

I live in a small town the same size and own a small bussiness. I is the same as when a no good sob dies. "Oh we sure miss good ole john he was the backbone of the town" Or "We will miss the bussines,it was here when dan boone shoped there" ECT. People only value things thay do not try to get or use or things thay can not get. WAKE UP!!!Its what the PEOPLE in the town do decides its future not what one or two do. I find the people who cry or complain instead of taking action are the bigest problem. If this ticks you off you may be the problem. fess up

-- Posted by Bintherdonethat on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 6:43 PM

Like everyone else has said, why didn't you all go together and buy the building? Obviously there wasn't enough business to keep it open so I suppose that you all were part of this not having any business problem too? And now somone wants to change it and make a Iittle money and you all have a problem with it. I don't see how you all could tell the new owner what they can and can't do with there new purchase of the building when you have all beautiful sites there anyway. ?? Bainbridge is by far a "pretty" town to drive through! So what if they didn't buy it then what would happen? You all probley would watch it all fall in and rodents, cats, and other creatures would be crawling in an out of it. Would that be better?

-- Posted by asmalltowngirl on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 7:20 AM

Boy, there sure are some people on here who "THINK" they have all the answers...so tell me why are you not doing something about all that you have an opinion and answers for?! Easier said than done, isn't it?

I thought so....

Since the restaurant was ZONED for business, the residents didn't feel concerned that when it was auctioned it would even be considered being made into apartments. So, yes, now after the fact, it is upsetting. I feel sorry for the new owner that she obviously didn't get the correct information from Mr. Lawson who auctioned it off! However, she should have checked the zoning with the town office BEFORE she even bid! And if I were in Richard Cope's shoes who said he would not vote for it to be apartments, I would have said the exact same thing! Nearly our whole downtown is apartments!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Getting a group together to buy it just is not even a reasonable suggestion either....think about it.

All in all aside, I send a huge THANK YOU to the new owners for keeping it a restaurant for our community!

-- Posted by John3:16 on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 9:40 AM

The Bon Ton does serve some good staple food; however, the main reason it fails to make a decent profit can be attributed to several things.

1. Limited hours of operation. The Bon Ton closes early and has limited selection for dinner, if at all.

2. One of the Bon Ton's biggest attributes is its location. It is within two miles of two schools. Both schools employ approximately 100 people. A lunch rush, or delivery service would increase profits tremedously.

The Bon Ton can be operated profitably, but that will be up to the new owners.

As to the sight on 36 as your heading through town, I couldn't agree more. That section of town needs new life, and I don't mean another dollar store or converted motel apartments. While I applaud the Town Council for supporting a business in town, It needs to work to clean it up and bring in new business.

-- Posted by dragonjbynight on Tue, Dec 16, 2008, at 2:22 AM

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