A business-friendly city starts with being friendly

Much has been made lately in the City of Aiken about promoting an atmosphere that is welcoming to new business and more helpful to existing enterprise here.

Despite that sentiment, there are still kinks to be worked out. Maryanne Budnichuk, owner of StrikeHouse Bowl at the corner of Whiskey and Dougherty Roads, feels like her side of the story regarding the widening and improvements proposed for one of the top five most dangerous intersections in Aiken is not understood by City Council.

Budnichuk took exception to the remark made by City Council member Lessie Price during Council’s Nov. 9 meeting regarding her $176,000 asking price for the 140-square-foot parcel of land at the corner of Whiskey and Dougherty roads as being ridiculous.

“It’s certainly not ridiculous,” said Budnichuk. “Does Lessie Price have any idea what other corporations are offering for my business? Has she ever owned a business before? I don’t think so. Her remarks were very disrespectful. She has no idea what impact losing that property will do to my business.” Price replied that no disrespect was intended toward Budnichuk or Strike House Bowl, only that the conversation during Monday night’s Council meeting dealt with appraised value and not economic impact on the business. Perhaps the biggest slight is that Budnichuk said she was not informed there would be such a discussion nor was she invited to explain her position.

“There has been absolutely no communication between the City or the (S.C. Department of Transportation) and myself regarding their intentions with my property,” she said. “And their offer of $3,775 doesn’t take into consideration the impact this expansion will have on my business.”

Her $176,000 asking price involves more than the wedge of property comprising the corner of Dougherty and Whiskey roads, Budnichuk said.

“This is more than just losing eight parking spaces in front,” she said. “If they do what they’re planning, I’ll have to change my entrance to the bowling alley.”

Like moving the entrance from the Whiskey Road side of the building to the parking lot side to accommodate the additional turn lane, Budnichuk said.

“There is so much more the City needs to take into consideration when calculating a proper sale price than just numbers and calculations,” Budnichuk said. “I’m going to have to tear down a portion of my building to build this new entrance. So, if you take all this into consideration, $3,775 doesn’t even cover the asphalt needed to repave the area.”

Recently purchased by Budnichuk. Strike House Bowl has been open since 1952 and has been a part of the Aiken cityscape for more than half a century.

“I feel like we’re being railroaded here,” she said. “This is my business. There is nothing about operating a business that is ‘ridiculous.’ Council needs to understand that.”

Whether what Budnichuk is asking for is reasonable or not remains to be seen, but the City should certainly hear her out and work to reach an agreeable deal if at all possible.

Paying lip service to being business friendly is easy enough. Actually carrying it off will require communication, time and attention.