It’s becoming apparant that Mayor Keolker is trying to elbow Eric Temple, the owner of the Spirit of Washington dinner train, out of our town.
The mayor’s grudge against Mr. Temple has evidenced itself in two episodes:
(1) Two years ago, Mr. Temple offered to put $200,000 of his own money into finishing our vacant Pavilion building downtown, to lease it from the city and manage it as a community event center. He proposed catering these Pavilion events with the same modern commercial kitchen he built for catering the dinner train, in the train depot he leases and beautifully maintains downtown. Council chose this offer over the mayor’s plan, which was to bring in salvaged carrousel horses and create a permanent museum in the pavailion building. This plan would require a long term city subsidy as well as $250,000 in public start up costs. Mr. Temple’s Spirit of Washington Event Center has been extremely successful, hosting nearly 200 events per year and giving the city over one hundered thousand in extra revenue each year.
(2) As the crowds and trees both grew at the adjacent outdoor Cinema at the Piazza, and the noise from Pavilion events and movies co-mingled, Mr. Temple offered to pay for hosting the Outdoor Cinema a few blocks up the street at a more spacious, grassy, and child-friendly Liberty Park location. Council readily endorsed this improvement, but the mayor hated the change and blamed Eric Temple for it. In her reaction, she upset many people, and attempted to start the ridiculous rumor that council wanted to end the farmers market forever–an outright lie.
Council has been trying to save the dinner train by challenging the closure of the eastside rail line. And we have been working to assure that in any case Mr. Temple will still have his train depot to cater his Event Center. I wish the Mayor would join us in these efforts.