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Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Brighton Northwest Quadrant Project Hit with a Dose of Reality

Seems like the reality that the majority of the New Brighton City Council has for so long tried to avoid has finally caught up with the Northwest Quadrant project. It turns out that the project, if it ever gets completed as planned, will come in with a price tag of between $70-80 million and involve dealing with a lot of unforeseen environmental and logistical problems.

Add to the ever increasing cost of the project the city’s heavy-handed use of eminent domain (see this past post, as well as this one, and this one) and, in retrospect, it would be hard to classify the project as a “success” even if it is completed as planned. Several businesses (along with the private sector jobs they provided) were forced to leave a city with an already stagnant business climate and at least one elderly couple was forced out of their home. And throughout the same time period the Northwest Quadrant debacle has been proceeding Brighton Village, once a prime commercial site, has sat empty for the last 6-7 years until it was demolished in late 2005. A vacant lot still stands in all of its glory.

From an article today at KSTP.com:
Mayor Larson said it was not poor planning but that the site was occupied until late in the project by Midwest Asphalt Corporation.

The project is an expensive one too, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to city hall to get a breakdown of the price tag.

New Brighton said it has borrowed over $40 million in bonds from taxpayers, $10.5 million from tiff districts tax money and the mayor said the cleanup will cost about $21 million dollars---for a project total of more than $70 million dollars. And that doesn't include the $5.3 million [Council Member Gina] Bauman said the city still needs.

Mayor Larson said he's going to ask for state tax money to cover the deficit.
And just where does Mayor Larson think that the state tax money to cover the deficit comes from?

After all of the hand-wringing, legal expense, and emotionally charged debate within the city council to acquire the Midwest Asphalt relatively late in the game, it seems a bit too convenient for Mayor Steve Larson to attempt to shift the blame for the problem-plagued project to Midwest Asphalt. Larson, along with Council Members Ann Hoffman and Mary Burg (as well as former Council Member Kim Moore-Sykes and former City Manager Matt Fulton) promoted the project, often over the objections of Council Member Sharon Doffing. Doffing was later joined in dissent by Council Member Gina Bauman who defeated Moore-Sykes in the last election. Many of the decisions responsible for where the project is today were pushed through the Council on 4-1 and 3-2 votes.

What’s done is done. Clearly the city needs to come up with an effective way to stop compounding the problems of this failed project and develop a new plan to undo as much of the damage as possible without incurring even further public debt. It will be a huge task without easy answers.

This fall the voters of New Brighton have the opportunity to replace the remaining drivers of the failed Northwest Quadrant project (Mayor Steve Larson, and Council Members Ann Hoffman and Mary Burg). The track record of these elected officials demonstrates they are not capable of successfully taking on the daunting challenge of correcting the problems they are largely responsible for. Hopefully new people will be elected with the vision, integrity, and energy to successfully clean up the mess caused by the old guard.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

So this is all your doing, it was you that called KSTP. "A viewer called and HE asked" Hum thanks for giving the city a nice black eye. And not having a sound mind able to see what the future of this City will be other than an election year.

2/22/2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

anonymous -

Please get a more creative handle.

That's quite a conclusion you jump to considering about half of the population can be referred to as "HE". Incidentally, it wasn't me and I do not know who the "HE" referred to is. Maybe it was Scooter Libby.

Nice try on the conspiracy theory, but as a matter of fact if you had attended some of the public meetings and work sessions (or even bothered watching them on cable) you would have seen the KSTP reporters (as well as some from other media outlets) observing the proceedings first hand along with the citizens of New Brighton.

Regardless of how KSTP, or any other media outlet for that matter, became interested in the situation it does not change the facts that the project has not been very successful.

How much blame are you willing to shoulder by cheerleading for the people who are responsible for the problem? Any black eye the city has was self-inflicted by those running the show.

If you think the city and its officials are getting a raw deal then by all means feel free to start your own blog and do some in-depth commentary (Blogger.com is free and easy to set up). We at Boots On will even help you promote it and will participate in the discourse.

2/22/2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A blog you post information and feed back. Did you miss something in class. When you dont post feed back to your likeing its the same as denying freedom of speech.

2/22/2007 5:43 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

Anonymous -

Again, please use a handle other than "Anonymous" to facilitate responses. It doesn't require a lot of creativity. For example, something like "David" would do the job nicely. It may be helpful to write it down in crayon first and then carefully type it in.

Your previous comment was not
published because it did not meet our standards regarding the respect of the privacy of others.

Since you seem to get your jollies seeing your comments published the gist of your comment (minus the oh-so-clever and witty part) was:

"Im not going away. But you should really look for another hobbie and just let the city proceed on with out you."

Wow! Lots of insight and deep thought went into that one. Incidentally, the word you probably meant to use was "hobby". Perhaps you are in need of a hobby yourself.

The only reason I let your last one through was that it presents an opportunity to show how shallow liberal thought can be (not to mention spelling and prose).

Yes, you have freedom of speech. But, as was once pointed out by Ronald Reagan, others are not obligated to give you a vehicle or forum for your speech. You do not run this blog. Those of us who do have the absolute right to block or let through whatever commentary we see fit without regard to whether or not the criteria is fair or consistent. If your commentary is civil and does not violate the privacy of others, libelous, etc. we will let it through.

No one is violating your freedom of speech. If you play by the rules and have something of value to add to the discourse we will be more than happy to let it through. If that's not good enough you are free to go out to Blogger.com and start your own blog and comment away to your heart's content.

The local newspapers also publish "Letters to the Editor". Like this blog they have, and freely exercise, the right to regulate the material they publish.

For those of you who have asked why this blog had to turn on comment moderation, you can thank a certain commenter who abused the privilege (as opposed to the right) of open commentary we used to have. He often goes by the handle of "Anonymous".

If we all play nice we can have an enjoyable discourse and spirited debate. If commentary gets nasty, abusive, or otherwise unworthy of
publication it will win a free one-way trip to the bit bucket.

2/22/2007 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the election coming up, I didn't like what I saw in the field of candidates as the whatever-sykes gal who had been defeated was back running. Aren't she and the rest of the crowd a bunch of eminent domain abusers? Is anyone running who is commendable in terms of property rights? Answers published in focus had past eminent domain folks saying they were against that now (sure, now that it's too late). I don't trust them. Is any candidate worth to join Bauman and Doffing?

10/12/2007 11:56 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

Steven -

Kim Moore-Sykes does seem to have changed her tune, but I agree that she cannot be trusted.

Check out the other non-incumbent (or former incumbent) candidates.

Personally I like Terry Post a lot. David Phillips also seems very qualified though he does sound a bit liberal if you talk to him when he comes door knocking. I would rather have a liberal who can think things through and find a lot of common ground with conservatives that one like Mary Burg, a very nice well meaning person who I personally like, but tends to go touchy-feely when it comes to complicated problems.

Thanks for checking out Boots On.

10/26/2007 3:50 PM  

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