If Star Valley has its way, there’ll be no more dancing topless girls in town.
On Tuesday, the town council unanimously decided to bid on Pete’s Place Cabaret, which is scheduled for sale at a trustee auction Jan. 21 in Globe.
The council is so determined to shut down the cabaret that Mayor Bill Rappaport pledged $10,000 of his own money to see the town purchase it.
At the sale, the bank seeks to recover the roughly $300,000 loan it extended to club owner Joseph Soldevere. Another $25,000 is owed in back taxes.
Despite offering little worth to the town, councilors jumped at the chance to buy the club.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime to reverse what we inherited from the county,” said Councilor Vern Leis, who volunteered to travel to Globe and bid on the club.
The cabaret was grandfathered in when the town incorporated in 2005. Since then, the town has adopted ordinances against adult entertainment.
Since the rights go with the land and not the owner, the only way to permanently stop its use for adult entertainment is to buy the club and hold it for six months. After that, any future use would follow current town codes.
“We need to step up to the plate, buy the facility and hold it until six months and then decide what we want to do with it,” Leis said.
Town Manager/Attorney Tim Grier admitted some people might argue it is not the government’s function to set the moral compass for the town, but with so many residents telling him they favor removing adult entertainment, the council should use the opportunity to acquire the property.
Rappaport said his phones had been ringing off the hook since Tuesday. Most all of the callers encouraged him to do what he could to buy it.
“It does nothing to enhance the town, it has been a detriment,” he said. “It has always been on our minds and now we have the opportunity to change the scope of the property.”
The current condition of the property is unknown. There is a “good” well on site, but the leech field and lines could be failing.
With $2.6 million in the bank, the town has the money to buy the club, however, the council discussed setting a spending limit of $300,000. The council elected to go into executive session to set a cap, so it is unclear how high Leis will bid on Jan. 21.
Resident Steve Vincent told the council he didn’t agree with its plan to put Soldevere out of business. “Let it die on its own,” he said. “It is a bad precedence for the government to put people out of business.”
Vincent suggested the town save the money and use it on something else, like new crossings.
Councilor George Binney said he was all for free enterprise, but the town should shut it down.
Grier said the town is not putting Soldevere out of business, “they have put themselves out of business. Once it is sold, they are out of business.”
Resident Gary Rolf said he was all for closing the cabaret, but asked if the council knew what the property was worth.
Leis said no one knows for sure what the value is because the last comparable commercial property sold was the town’s new town hall and it is in better shape.
Resident Ray Lyons said the town might find itself with a piece of property not worth much.
“It could end up as a store room,” Lyons said.
“We may or may not break even,” Grier said. “We are not going into it to make money, but to uphold our mission statement.”