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Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance a private organization, attorney says

Mike Anthony
Executive Editor
The Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance is a private group, according to the organization's attorney, Mary Schultz.

"Anybody can be a member, but it's not a public organization. It's a private organization,'' Schultz told the Call last week.

The Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance "is a citizen-based organization concerned about the path that Crestwood's appointed officials are choosing,'' according to a flier the group has distributed to solicit members.

But Schultz and the organization's chairman, Kelley Isherwood of Oakville, have declined to provide the Call with a membership list for the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance.

Isherwood has told city officials that the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance has hundreds of members, and at the Sept. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting, a representative of the group unveiled a partial membership list on a placard. After Isherwood and Schultz spoke, the Call requested a copy of the partial membership list, but Isherwood declined to provide one. "I don't have a list for you,'' he said in response to the request. "I will not give the names out at this time.''

Since July, Schultz and Isherwood have appeared before the Crestwood Board of Aldermen, voicing concerns about the proposed redevelopment of the 18.79-acre Watson/Grant Redevelopment Area that is comprised of two parcels at Watson and Grant roads.

The larger of the two parcels contains Value City and is owned by Joe Grasso, while the smaller parcel contains the Creston Center and is owned by the Boegeman family's Crest Development Co. Members of the Boegeman family repeatedly have told aldermen they will not sell their property and have vowed to fight any efforts to acquire their property through eminent domain.

Plans to remodel the Creston Center have been approved by the city and the Boegeman family currently is spending $150,000 to $200,000 on the project.

Schultz also represents the Boegeman family's Crest Development Co., which owns the Creston Center.

On Friday, Isherwood hand delivered a copy of a news release issued by the alliance in response to the board's decision to establish a moratorium on redevelopment and conduct "interactive seminars'' for city residents about redevelopment.

The news release stated the alliance takes issue with comments by Crestwood Mayor Jim Robertson and City Administrator Don Greer, "who have referred to 'lies' and 'misinformation' and have accused the CSGA of misleading the public. Notably, no specific 'lies' or 'misinformation' have been identified.''

Once again Isherwood declined to provide the Call with a membership list, but displayed a one-inch-thick folder that he said contained signed membership forms.

"The problem is I don't want to give names. I can't give names,'' he said. "The people have expressed, many people are reluctant just to join in the first place because they say: 'How is this going to be used, my name?' And so I have to say to them: 'Well, we're not going to publish your name.'''

Asked if the Boegemans contribute to the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance, Isherwood said, "Yes, they contribute and we are going to, I mean, you have to say initially that solicitations can be given and our sign-up form says you may donate your time, you may donate money.

"And people are volunteering to donate time. People are volunteering to give me information and people are volunteering to be involved and I'm getting politically astute, attuned to what's going on,'' he said.

Isherwood said he is being compensated for his work with the organization.

"I'm getting compensated — not really much ... I'm compensated, but we're talking at a much-reduced rate,'' he said.

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