Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wrecked

The proposal to build a $6.5 million indoor recreation center sits on the edge of the city budget like some of the DWI wrecks the cops like to haul in front of high school campuses around prom season. It stands a grizzly testament to the reckless behavior of city officials, who make very poor decisions while drunk on their own power. The hapless recreation center remains no closer to becoming a reality than it did more than two years, when the equally hapless administration of Valerie Keehn goaded the City Council into selling bonds for the project.

Only now, the economy is in what appears to be a death spiral and city residents are facing yet another property tax increase. Come next year, the average working-class homeowner –if there are any left –will be paying more than $1,110 in city taxes alone. And it’s not too reassuring to know that about a half-million of these inordinately high tax dollars will go toward paying interest rates on a non-existent recreation center. To put this in overly simplified terms, were the two years of interest on this bond distributed among each of the city’s 10,723 parcels, the bill would be about $49 per property.

Angry yet? Well then consider a handful of these property owners will happily pay this estimated interest cost in addition to exorbitant legal fees so that all the other property owners can face even more costs associated with stalling the project. These open-field loving NIMBYs are planning to file a ludicrously frivolous lawsuit against the city, arguing that a proper “environmental review” was never conducted. Simply put, their assertion is ludicrous. But this isn’t stopping the South Side wreckers from throwing what could be an industrial-sized wrench into the project.

“What Johnson doesn't realize is that this will cause a lot of resentment among the taxpayers, because we'll be footing the cost of defending the suit,” boasted Lee Pokoik, a member of the wreckers and a self-professed “part-time” city resident.”Next year he’ll be running for re-election and this will be cause for some people to want to throw him out of office...We can’t be wasting money on ridiculous lawsuits.”

Ahem. Filing ridiculous lawsuits? Wasting money? Isn’t that exactly what the South Siders are doing here? Provided a lawsuit is filed, any lawyer worth his salt would immediately file for an injunction to prevent construction from beginning. And provided they can keep the injunction in place for the next seven months, they might just land the city into a financial quagmire. After all, the city is supposed to spend the first $1.8 million of the recreation center bond by April. To date, no city official has indicated exactly what will happen if these funds are not spent.

Eventually, these wastrels will run out of money and their case will be thrown out of court, but not before they cause untold damage to the project’s budget. Speaking of budget, who’s to say the building could even be built for the estimated $6.5 million? The cost of everything from asphalt to aluminum has skyrocketed since the Keehn Administration adopted this bastard project as its own back in 2006. Not to mention, the cost of heating the cavernous center during the winter has most assuredly increased, which is something Linda Terricola probably didn’t figure into the equation when she said the building would “pay for itself.”

The boondoggle has left Mayor Scott Johnson in a sort of quandary, perhaps the first of his 10-month-old administration. He’s gone too far to scrap plans for locating the center on the south side, which is quite clearly the best location for the building if any exists at all. He’s also facing an economy where sales tax is down, mortgage tax receipts are dropping to their lowest rates this century and the city’s departments are pining for budget allocations that would increase taxes by 29 percent. And next year could be even worse.

Sadly, it seems as though the recreation center simply doesn’t fit into any plan to downsize the city’s over-inflated budget. No matter what its proponents say, the building will require city staff and city-funded utilities to operate, meaning there will be a cost to homeowners even after the bond is paid off. So it’s probably time to investigate what it would take to hatchet the whole project, even though this would regrettably give a handful of overly vocal obstructionists the endgame they have sought since a certain vapid former mayor galvanized them last winter.

In theory, the city could simply pay off the bond and suck up the hundreds of thousands already paid in interest. It might just be Johnson’s only way out from underneath an incomprehensibly stupid decision by the Keehn-lead council to bond a project that wasn’t anywhere near ready for construction. Perhaps the council could throw in a few extra dollars to purchase a plaque for the South Side fields: Here was the last stand of the greatest tax-funded waste under the failed Valerie Keehn administration.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. this process has lasted for about 15 years and has included presentations to neighborhood associations all over the city. Every one of those groups say, "what a great thing for the city. Don't put it in our neighborhood". Drive by the proposed site and even Lew Benton could count the number of people using the current facility without taking off his shoes. People bitched about the Wiebel Ave site because kids couldn't bike there, now they can and it still isn't acceptable to those knucklheads who moved here, have no kids and want to die in a nice place. Well that can't happen soon enough.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Mamie said...

I will fuck that Ann Bullock bitch up! Lawsuit! Me and Scotty got a plan!

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Real Deal said...

Don't forget Keehn acted on the assumption the REC Center was to go on Weibel Ave. Johnson jumped out to change to South Side. If it was still on Weibel we wouldn't have this problem. No one was going to sue on a Weibel Ave. location. Scott's back door deals will hurt this city beyond repair.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

real deal,

I'd agree with that statement. But I'd also agree the rec "center" should theoretically be in the center of the city, not at the city composting site. The only thing that would have made that site somewhat acceptable would have been if they created a trail from the city proper to the center, something that has also been discussed but never fully implemented. Frankly, I think there are about as many questions as there are pissed-off people in this situation, which suggests to me that there are just flat out too many of both. I hate to watch a half-mill of good tax dollars flushed down the toilet, but I'd really hate to see $6.5 million spent, plus another $2 million and a $15,000-per-year utility bill(perhaps more) when we really should be saving money as a city. Or at least spending it on projects that make sense.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO:

J. Michael O"Connell, Ken Klotz, Michael Lenz, Valerie Keehn, Scott Johnson. Five mayors in 10 years. The 2-year term provided by our weird City Charter for a part-time mayor to hold office while sharing power with four service departments headed by independent commissioners simply isn't long enough to get any project planned, approved, financed, and built. And the virulent anti-tax rhetoric (Give us lots of government services! Don't raise our taxes!) pushed by cynical conservatives makes it nearly impossible for a mayor to get re-elected enough times to get anything done. They either get tossed out for not trying to accomplish anything (Lenz) or for trying to do too much (Keehn). As you correctly point out, the price of everything keeps going up, but as long as we keep expecting taxes to remain low, it's unrealistic for us to expect any mayor to get much done.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me, the ValK took the center away from TM (who had it on Weibel) as a power grab and moved it (surrounded by her people) south. SJ is moving his inheritance along and it is running into the late in the game opposition front.

It’s too late in the game to decide where the “better” place would be. I would have imagined that Weibel would have permitted the use by more people – no different than the Ice rink. Kids are driven to scheduled games and have little time to wander on their own to just shoot hoop. Many of those same Southsiders complained about the unimproved lot and now complain about the proposed improvement.

It will become more of a neighborhood facility than a citywide one, but at this point let's not have the conversation about siting it.

You gotta love the debate at the Council table though. They're fighting over the budget and taxpayer money. Had the Charter been changed (as recommended by our "Taking of Land" expert), an administrator would have signed your money over faster than you could say Merrill Lynch, with impunity.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Mamie said...

We should picket right outside these people's house's on lincoln ave. They want to bitch then pay the price. What Scotty wants, Scotty gets! He's our leader!

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Real Deal (the real one) said...

FYI:

The 5:07 comment was not from me--rather from that Keehn nut who often resorts to this trick.

The "Real" Real Deal

7:31 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:22 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Mamie 3:50 AM said...

"What Scotty wants, Scotty gets! He's our leader!"


Mamie, I think you better change your panties; I think you've gotten them all wet.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Kyle York apologizes, requests correction:

Horatio-

I believe I may have submitted a post dated Sunday afternoon. IF I did, it has an error that is entirely my own. The financial bonus for Hector Ruiz will be $3 (three) million, NOT $300 million. I was moving too fast and too sloppy. My apologies to Mr. Ruiz, to you, and your readers.

-Kyle York

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratoga Springs had a nice rec center in the center of town. Close to the park, walking distance to all the coffee places moms love to frequent. It was called the YMCA. Now, Sonny and Tom are running around desperately trying to find tenants for the iron cage of mixed residential and commercial space on South Broadway. A smaller, better YMCA there would have been nice, along with the new one, which is wonderful on West Ave. And Weibel Avenue? Um...the old YMCA is one mile down the road...

2:24 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Kyle said...

“Kyle York apologizes, requests correction:”

Okay, okay Kyle enough with the apologies.
So you added a couple of zeros to a 3. Maybe math isn't your strong suit.
We all make mistakes. Well, maybe not all of us, but in your case it's time to pick yourself up. Dust yourself off and charge full steam ahead.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Mamie said...

I don't wear panties, there Shot. The last time I did they ended up on Scottie's head! That's why he hired me!

5:26 PM  
Anonymous The "Real Fucking Deal" said...

The fake real deal is blowing it out his ass! Ever since he moved off of Warren St. with his hooker wife he has lied!

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

demroc said:
time to scrap the rec center. the location is great but they are already in the process of screwing it up. true to saratoga form they've scaled it back to the point now , it's just to small and hence pointless. secondly, if the city is hurting for cash and our services are going to get cut, why spend more money? we're going to layoff people, pay unemployment, and then turn around and pay to staff a new, pathetically designed rec center. i don't get that one. boondoggle indeed.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it is time to cut our losses. How do we get out of the bonded money contract? Anyone know?

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't forget the money we're pissing away on the lake front property. $.7 million going to waste in next years budget.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we sure that Sarah Palin isn't really Val Keehn dolled-up a bit differently?

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Val Keehn is not the problem. Maybe Johnson and that airhead Deputy of his are just pushy assholes!

4:02 AM  

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