Dear Editor,

As someone who has spent most of her life in Grove — my grandparents owned Grove’s first two nursing homes and my parents and I ran Forrest Realty in Grove since the 1980’s — it is with pain I read about the hysterical enthusiasm for the “rebirth” of Shangri-La Resort on faraway Monkey Island.

When I visited my grandparents in the 1970’s, Grove was a place of gravel streets and bait shops, and Shangri-La was where the rich hung out and never the twain did meet.

Forty years later, $300 hotel rooms at Shangri-La are once again being celebrated.

Forty years of empty downtown buildings is proof that the rich do not bring wealth.

As my grandma would say, a rich man is tighter than a mosquito’s ass stretched over a rain barrel. The rich do not let go of their money. Even our Lord Jesus Christ, Who knows all, Who loves all, and Who forgives all, even Jesus Christ, when confronted with a rich man, basically said, “It’s a problem.”

While we run behind the golf carts, hoping the rich man tosses us a nickel, Grove is cannibalizing itself like a bunch of angry chickens pecking each other to death.

Local businesspeople who have been in Grove for generations and who have invested their entire working lives, like Rick and Kelly Schreiber of the Village Barn Antiques, are being persecuted and burned-out, because their place of business is deemed “icky and old.”

Point of Fact: Rick and Kelly Schreiber’s antique store was featured in a big “Southern Living” magazine spread, with PICTURES OF THEIR ICKY AND OLD BUILDING.

Our city geniuses would burn the log cabin where Abe Lincoln was born, because it was “icky and old.”

Before the City seizes and destroys your private property based upon a sudden, new insurance or code requirement, you need to force the City to show in writing every notice given to every single owner of every single commercial-zoned building within the City limits—vacant or occupied, new or historic, lumberyard, City shed or storage yard—of said sudden, new insurance or code requirement, and show compliance by every single owner of same.

This is called the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

My dad, Jack Forrest, tirelessly advocated for public access to Grand Lake, for EVERYONE (not just for people who can pay $300 for a hotel room or buy a big fat lake house).

For years, my dad worked to connect Grove’s walkable historic downtown with a walkable lakefront retail presence in the Cheapo Depot area, so that WE THE PEOPLE could enjoy the lake, too. My dad sold the land sites for Lowe’s, Arby’s, Arvest Bank, Sonic, Bank of Grove, and many other retailers. He wrote the letter inviting Tractor Supply to Grove.

He always told me that the rules of real estate are very simple: sacrifice one downtown block for a parking lot, to support our starving merchants. Put a few stoplights up and down the wind tunnel of Highway 59. At every stoplight, you will create four commercial corners.

And the thing people crave the world over: waterfront. What Grove has ignored and left to languish as swampland for 40 years, would have been beautifully developed by any other city on earth.

There is an Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) plan in place for a Bypass through O’Daniel, which would drain the swamp called Grove, bringing public lake access into the Cheapo Depot area, creating retail pad sites for lakefront shopping and eating destinations, tied to our historic downtown.

The Grove Sun office downtown has copies of the ODOT plan, so does The Dodd Company real estate office at 911 South Main.

In the 1970’s, the myth of Shangri-La could not even sustain itself, because there were not enough conventions and not enough rich people.

In other words, there are more of us than there are of them. Lowe’s, Arby’s, Arvest Bank, Sonic, and Bank of Grove will be here long after Shangri-La has once again receded into the mists of memory.

The future of our town belongs to local business people and their customers who cheerfully say, “Thank you!” and, “Have a great day!”, not to the guys wearing those funny checkered pants.

Christina Forrest

Grove