After reading a letter by Al Hatch, chairman and founder of Back to the Bricks, Inc. in last week’s “Letters To The Editor” section of THE ROCKFORD SQUIRE, several parts bothered me. For instance, “Did Mr. Hatch and his group come to promote our town or did they come to promote their group?” Mr. Hatch stated more than once that Rockford missed an opportunity to promote our town. He blamed our city manager Michael Young for not responding to e-mails and phone call requests for interviews. Those interviews would have been featured in the media on the east side of Michigan. To me that promotes the importance of the tour more than it promotes Rockford. It gives the impression that the tour is important all over the state and makes people aware of their group. Nice publicity for them. I think that Michael Young was smart enough to realize that the promotion of their group was the real reason the tour came here.
It appears, however, that Michael Young did have other contact with the group and handled their question about closing Main Street, but they did not like his answer. The group was aggravated because their request that Rockford close Main Street was turned down. Good for Michael Young! How can any group promoting their own cause expect the town to do what they want? Mr. Hatch commented that all of the 250 visitors with his group were dismayed with their reception and many commented that “it will be some time (if ever) we return to Rockford.” He even went on to say that they will tell their friends that we are not a welcoming community. If Mr. Hatch actually is speaking for all of the visitors and that is really their attitude, I think we can survive without them! I feel that we are our own community, and we welcome people to visit here, but we think for ourselves.
If one reads all of Mr. Hatch’s letter, the paragraph dealing with alcohol doesn’t deserve much discussion because it is senseless. The final paragraph dealing with trying to find officials at City Hall on Friday afternoon shows lack of general knowledge. They asked if Michael Young was in and were told that he wasn’t. This was a logical request because he is often found there. They asked for the mayor and the director of the Chamber of Commerce. They, of course, were also not there, but a person educated about our city knows that they do not work there. To expect to find them at City Hall all of the time is silly.
I do agree with Mr. Hatch when he says “Rockford is a beautiful city and one that all residents should be proud of.” I do not agree that we lack hospitality, but I am not sure that my definition of hospitality is the same as that of Mr. Hatch. If his definition of hospitality is for a community to do what he wants, then we lack hospitality. He should know that we are a community with values, and we won’t be used by anyone. I feel that we are ROCKFORD, and we are proud of our town and area. We are courteous and friendly but we do not appreciate being told what we should do.
Personally, I thought the letter and the tone used in it showed that it was written by someone who was mad because they did not get “their own way”! The letter bothered me to the point that I even researched the “Back to the Bricks Inc.” website to learn more about them. I do not fault their cause or their works. I wonder about their attitude toward other non-profit groups but that is their business. I do not know enough about them to criticize just as they do not know enough about Rockford and our area to criticize us. My criticism is about the statements made in the letter.
Finally, my thanks to the ROCKFORD SQUIRE for the chance to comment and give my opinions concerning the letter from Mr. Hatch and his group.
Regards – Terry Konkle