Arment: All voices are equal

Jason Arment

Not every small business owner is dreading the idea of eminent domain coming in and taking their place in campus away. David Metcalf from The Ark, a store that sells pets and pet supplies, is excited about the idea.

“If it goes, more power to it,” Metcalf said. “Relocation is the best thing in the world for me.”

Metcalf expressed frustration in his location. The Ark is located in the basement of the Ames Progressive, a building slated to morph into a parking lot on the plans LANE4 has for Campustown.

Metcalf said no one official from the state or the city has talked to him, but he was up to speed on what was more or less happening. He said he “anticipates and expects” some kind of compensation if indeed he is asked to leave. Compensation, which may have meant monetary compensation, or guaranteed re-entry into the area that LANE4 is still developing.

I didn’t get the chance to ask what he specifically meant because the Ark is busy, something that proved to be a trend among the small business in that location as I walked around Saturday afternoon.

At the end of my conversation with Ravinder Singh, owner of AJ’s Market, there was a line formed behind me of people wondering why I wouldn’t get out of the way.

Singh had been telling me how he didn’t want to give up his location; how his shop is patronized heavily by students.

Singh shared something in common with some of the other business I talked with: He had never been contacted by anyone from the city, or anyone from the state.

He said he had never seen the plans themselves, but had heard from others in his community of the general idea that someone might be obtaining land, and that might include his store. Also, that even if it didn’t, rent would rise.

Where is this all going, you may be wondering. I know some people are wondering whether I’m about to list off every example of a small business owner not wanting LANE4.

I understand where they are coming from, since I would in effect be diminishing a very valid point, that some businesses will benefit from LANE4’s plans. They get that I could play around for quite a few words, after talking to people, and construct just about anything I wanted.

They think that isn’t fair, because I should try to be fair and just, even in my opinions, and the voice of Metcalf has just as much weight as the voice of Singh, because they have different point of views that should be considered equally.

It doesn’t really matter how many other people say the same thing as either one of them, because they are saying the same thing. It shouldn’t matter how loudly people agree with him, the valid points of others should not be drowned out.

I agree.

I also understand that the voices of those small business or property owners, that dissenting and defiant voice, “No, we won’t move,” has just as much validity of the voice of every man women and child in this town combined.

Will there be an argumentum ad populum? Will it be put forward that the number of voices is what wins the courts? Will I have to call up memories that are uncomfortable to think about, of mobs screaming slurs; how popularity didn’t make it right then, and it is not the means to stifle an argument now?

I would hope not.

As for the ends justifying the means, well, if LANE4 was an absolutely guaranteed panacea I might be swayed. You might then convince some part of my mind to waffle, maybe then I would concede.

Nothing contrived by man is perfect, and I believe the idea of pulling in a demographic from other parts of Ames isn’t going to work anywhere but on paper. I just don’t think the draw can be sustained.