Speak Out Loud NA

Monday, June 27, 2005

Infrastructure or Swimming Pools?

The City Council has planned another “workshop” session on the Scribner Place project that will be held Tuesday night, June 28th, at 6:30PM on the 3rd floor. However, no public comments or questions will be allowed.
Great way to get some support back under this thing, don’t let anybody ask questions and don’t listen to anybody’s opinion.
But, why should we be surprised? This thing is going to happen one way or another, and those who don’t like it better just shut up and keep their opinions to themselves. Most are just plain too stupid to know what’s good for them anyway. Right Baylor?
Real smarts would tell you that since it's the ONLY plan, well then it must be a good plan.
We have all been witness to the rantings of the insolents who support the proposed city investment into the YMCA-Scribner Place project, and we are all well aware of the nasty, rude remarks they have hurled at those who do not support their point of view.
Rather than discussing the issue with some measure of decorum, they resort to name calling, insults on intelligence, and accusations of political agendas.
The folks who do not agree with the city’s involvement in the project have been accused of an attitude of “no progress at any price”. I assert it is quite the contrary.
The pro-spending crowd doesn’t seem to hear the pleas to invest in improvements and repairs to the inner city rather than plunking down huge amounts of money and resources into a venture that could potentially fail.
Now, before anybody starts jumping up and down on that statement let me clarify. I personally would love to see a development such as the YMCA come to town, and I truly hope it will be successful. I am not against the YMCA development.
However, I do not believe that New Albany city government is in any position to be involved in the commercial end of this endeavor. Particularly when there are so many problems with our infrastructure, and a desperate need for code enforcement, along with many other issues that affect quality of life here.
Speaking of code enforcement, since the Council passed the approval of the position and salary, we have made no apparent progress towards implementing the job. Are we still getting one? Or are we being told there’s no money?
As for the Coffey Plan, I’m not so sure his plan would back this thing up all the way to zero’s. The city has already purchased land, and is in process of clearance and environmental cleanup. I believe that is a $1.5 million cost that has already been undertaken. The city plans to lease the cleared and cleaned land to the YMCA for $1 per year. One hell of a deal that would help any business get off to a good start (any hint of how to spawn more businesses?).
Now, the Redevelopment Commission has received its first $1 million payment from Caesar’s, and I’m not sure if those funds were used towards this aspect of the project or not. If so, that would mean our current investment is nominal. I suggest we leave it that way.
One question that is nagging at me is… if there is going to be a bond issue, how can the City Council vote on issuing bonds that will be tied to a Grant designated to the Redevelopment Commission and the YMCA, but not to the City?
I'm still digging for more on the original plans, and will hopefully have more details later this week.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More on Ideas and Comments

There has been a lot of good discussion going on regarding the "Project", and I want to respond to some of the issues and questions raised. I will try to have a full posting on these matters later this evening.
Meanwhile, I just want to make note of a few things that caught my attention, and a minor change in the look of the blog.
First, I have changed the settings for the "comments" that should make it more 'user friendly'.
Secondly, I'd like to remark that CM Dan Coffey has been the first Council member to comment here publicly. For that, I extend my thanks for participating as a City official. Your "Fourth Option" plan is interesting. And, in my opinion, worthy of consideration. My whys and why- nots will be in the later posting.
As most folks know, this blog was created to bring people, information, and opinions to an open format for discussion. For those who are participating in this manner, I thank you. Particularly to those who have had to "take it on the chin" (Shirley, et,al.), you have remained dignified and forthright in the purpose to stick to the issues even when others attack and refuse to practice common decency when it comes to debating the issues.
Personally, I can only apologize for the rudeness and personal attacks that continue to pop up occasionally, I have done my best to deter it, and will continue enforcing the policies here.
As to the issue at hand:
The proposed "Project" obviously has some opposition in regards to ownership and investment. However, I see very little opposition to the "Project" actually happening. In fact, I believe most folks see the value of the development, but have very little confidence left in the compentency of the City administrations, past, current and future.
This is a very long term plan that will require the cooperation and blessings of future administrations that could very well re-structure the whole thing. Mayor Garner has already altered past-Mayor Overton's plans dramatically in terms of project. I'm curious to know if it was altered financially. What was in the original plan?
The next posting will take a closer look at the beginnings of this Project as it was undertaken by the Redevelopment Commission.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Weather & Other Observations

Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend!
What beautiful weather we're having. It's a shame the climate of sentiments in this town can't match the climate outside. Anyone who is paying attention is either confounded at the audacity, or is mad as hell that the ignorant masses won't shut up and go away.
There is a considerable, and almost palpable, amount of bitterness that surrounds the people and the political administration in New Albany. The YMCA/Scribner project has caused cracks of differences to develop into craters of mis-trust and downright hostility.
We have all watched, and listened, as one mis-step, misfortune, or misunderstanding after another has come to light as the mitigating circumstance by which so many projects have gone awry, been left uncompleted, or have become mired in controversy.
With all the problems facing our city, people are having a hard time understanding the massive expenditure, and trusting the decision making processes that have left us living in a city where:
Sewers are self-imploding
Drainage is a myth
Sidewalks are something the next street over gets
Garbage is reproducing
Meth-labs are rampant
and a myriad of other problems that are simply overwhelming...
...and we're just supposed to trust that everything has been carefully thought out and that decisions are being made that are in the best interests of the people who inhabit this small rivertown.
I (we) have a right to ask questions, expect (honest) answers, and to object if so inclined.
The antics that take place between our elected leaders at City-Council meetings is indicative of how much communication and understanding is going on among themselves.
I'm sorry, but coming in with newspapers under one arm to quote what so-and-so said about such-and-such, is a terribly unsettling example to witness for the public who entrusts these bodies of government to make long-term, multi-faceted decisions on our behalf.
The YMCA/Scribner project calls for a 17 year committment from Caesar's. That's a long time.
If I am expected to entrust that nothing would ever happen to that source of funding for 17 more years, well, gambling boats have come and gone in other towns. Then what?
For the Council members who are listening and responding to the voices of their constituents who want progress and growth, but well planned progress and smart growth, thank you.
We are not stupid, ignorant, recessive thinking globs of people. We are people who happen to have a different opinion, or aren't quite convinced that this is a good idea.
Admittedly, the project is going to happen regardless. But, what then?
How it is financed, and the agreement entered upon at the outset will determine it's true costs to the people of New Albany.
Another cause for pause appeared in last Friday's paper announcing the Redevelopment Commission (the true grant recipient, NOT the City) has hired an investment firm for a feasibility study of private development potential around the project. This $36,000 advise should have been sought out in the earlier stages of discussion. Now, we know that any talk of the development it will attract can truly be construed as nothing more than guesswork, as the feasibility study has not yet been done!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Council Meeting

At 6:30 PM Thursday night the bond attorneys will be speaking about the YMCA/Scribner project bonds before the council meeting.
I don't believe they will allow public comments or discussion, but eyes upon them may help to bolster the resistance to allow property taxes as a backup mechanism.
Anyone out there who might have information about what else is on the agenda, please let us know.
Despite making multiple requests that one representative from each Neighborhood Asssociation be sent advance copies of the pending agendas for the Council meetings and Redevelopment Commission meetings, it just isn't going to happen.
Also, a reminder that the Board of Public Works (which usually meets Tuesday Mornings) is holding a special evening meeting, from 6:00-8:00PM, next Wednesday night at the Calumet Club - 1614 East Spring St.
I believe the East Spring Street Neighborhood Assoc. set this up, and it's a welcomed chance for folks who work the regular day shift jobs to be able to attend a meeting of one of the most functionally important Boards this city has. So, thanks to ESNA for creating an opportunity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Back to Work

There are so many issues facing our city, and the people who live within it, that we cannot afford to waste any more time playing ugly, juvenile games.
This effort will be revitalized and returned to its original intent by continuing to discuss pertinent issues that are facing us in our daily lives.
How can we lose sight of all the things that have been bringing more and more people out to the city-council meetings these days? Why are people in this city asking more questions, and wanting more answers? Why is expecting accountability from our elected officials a bad thing? Why are we being treated as though we are the enemy?
Look around at all the “For Sale” signs up and down every street. Every one represents another family that is pulling up roots because they are unhappy or dissatisfied with something about where they are living.
Is it the neighborhood, the neighbors, or the city as a whole? Perhaps something else altogether, but it IS something that is taking them away.
At least some of these folks who are moving are families who have been residents of New Albany for decades, but have now decided that life must be better elsewhere. Better, safer, cleaner, cheaper, fairer.
And what a shame that we can just stand and watch as they leave. A shame that we know that another home will likely become another rental, or another meth-lab, or another dilapidated structure that brings the word “blight” home to every neighborhood.
What do we do to stop the out migration of friends, family, and neighbors? How do we convince them, or even ourselves, that this city is still worth fighting for? How can we expect that things will change if we don’t change our attitudes?
We need the fighting amongst ourselves to stop, and the fighting for a better quality of life to commence.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Crystal Clear

I want to thank Ed for taking one on the chin for us by apologizing for his offending remarks. I do hope that this is an indication that he understands the existence of this blog is markedly different than the others, and that it's all for a reason.
The people of this town have hit a wall of frustration, and are demanding answers and accountability. There has been an audible outcry for a place to talk, to exchange information, to ask questions, to come together in an unthreatening environment.
If anyone would try to argue that assertion, then explain why there have been up to more than 130 comments on any one post. Others have had 30, 50, 60 and more. Still want to say this blog wasn't wanted, needed, or appreciated?
Therefore, I also take Ed up on his assertion that life is just too short to waste time slinging nasty personal attacks around when there is so much real business to get down to doing.
So, let's get back to business.
In anticipation of staying on track this time I am officially asking that Mr. Baylor (the new albanian) and "bluegill" please refrain from utilizing this blog.
Both have made their views and opinions very clear, crystal clear, and I regret that the discourse could not have taken a more respectable path.
Mr. Baylor has a blog, and has no reason to be using this one- unless he's looking for an audience. Political influence? Who's to know?
As for bluegill, you have had more than your share of opportunities to "speak", but have over-stated your opinion, and over-stayed your welcome. Politician? Too close to call.
In any case, this blog is for the citizens of New Albany.
I don't need to know their name. I'd just like to know what they think.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Clearing up things

When I posted on NA Confin's blog about this blog being a pink blog, well it is pink in color. The duh blog is easily described as this blog is, like well duh on its information. And then the fem blog statement which has hurt so many, that was because of it appears from my point of view only, a more female game board of rules on this blog because of Laura being the administrator and that is not a bad thing. If any of that insulted or caused harm to anyone, I stand accountable and plead for my forgiveness.

This blog has turned in to a killing field for character assassinations of all people; gender not being excluded. What started out as a sounding board blog away from Roger's NA Confin blog that is truly "his" reporting of city events and watchdog page, this page has turned nasty at times.

We need to stop bashing one another and just have some fun with all of this. Life is to short and this is a small town.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Information on the YMCA/Scribner Place

After hearing Mayor Garner say in Monday's Council meeting that there is no division within the city regarding the YMCA/Scribner project, and he has no idea what the impetus for Ben's Courier Journal article was, I became determined to get more information.
Knowing that Garner, while a CM, questioned the project, I wanted to know where and how it started, where and when it changed, and where and how it now stands.
I found a newspaper article dated November, 2003 in which Mayor Garner announced he would commission an economic feasibility study of the [YMCA/Scribner] project. Does anyone know if that was done?
I’ve also looked at various public documents regarding the YMCA/Scribner Place project that has been interesting reading.
In trying to track down the facts, I had to go back and start at the conception of the project. This took me back to August of 2002 when then-Mayor Overton referred to the project as the "Main Center".
At that time the intentions were that the ..."City would like the YMCA to build a facility that includes the natatorium (Y project) with City assistance, and to operate and manage the Y project in cooperation with the Parks Department."
At the council’s "workshop" last week it was said that the Parks Dept. would take control of the water facilities only if an anticipated arrangement for total oversight by the YMCA wasn't reached.
The Overton document also clearly outlined the anticipated role of the Redevelopment Commission in getting the project started in acquiring the land by floating a bond for a redevelopment project located within New Albany's Redevelopment District (YMCA/Scribner).
In March of 2003, the Redevelopment Commission indeed adopted a bond resolution "...approving the issuance of bonds payable solely from Caesars Foundation Grant proceeds, in a principle amount not to exceed $2,450,000."
I assume this is the $2.5 million allocation Mayor Garner refers to as being currently "under budget" for acquiring the land and completing environmental cleanups.
The bond resolution was done "...in order to procure funds to be applied on the costs of certain improvements including the construction of a YMCA/Natatorium complex, an overhead pedestrian plaza, public parking facilities, and the demolition and/or environmental cleanup of "brownfield" developments in the area...".
The administration's 7th version of the project omits the Plaza, and the parking garage, and proposes a $3 million dollar hole cut into the floodwall to serve as riverfront access.
Now the administration wants to get another bond for $15 million dollars, guaranteed with property taxes, and dedicate $400K of EDIT funds per year to this project.
Also, I noted that while the 1st $1 million dollar installment from the Caesar’s Foundation Grant went to the Redevelopment bond payment in 2003, the 2004 & '05 disbursements of $1 million dollars from Caesars went directly to the YMCA.
I will continue with more as I work my way through the paper trails.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

CM Seabrook Said It All At Monday's Council

The Monday night City-Council meeting was predictable for the most part, with everyone fulfilling their "roles" in this very expensive merry-go-round ride it feels as though we're on.
Just when I thought I was going to explode out of my seat before I could hear another word said, something rang through to my ears... "there's just no oversight out there."-
CM Seabrook.
Granted, he was speaking specifically about a drainage repair project 2 administrations ago, but his words startled me as being about the most intelligent thing I had heard out of a CM yet that evening. What a simple statement to sum up our current dilemma.
I believe it was later when CM Schmidt announced he had recieved the requested copies of financial data from Mrs. Garry's office, and provided copies of the information to each CM. He also announced he would have comments regarding the information after taking the time necessary to familiarize himself with the contents. That was also intelligent and courageous.
I would like to say, thank you, Mr. Schmidt, for being a man of integrity and true public service.
Mr. Seabrook's comment also highlighted Valla Ann's return, with 11 and 1/2 minutes of prepared research and thought provoking challenges to all CM's to be accountable to their constituents, and protect and preserve all citizen's rights to know just what the hell's been going on with the departamental games of suffleboard.
My take is that all Valla Ann is trying to say is "...there's just no oversight out there."
We need oversight, we expect accountability, and we deserve to be informed.
Undoubtedly, there is no "whitch hunt" the Mayor repeatedly (to my astonishment) refers to, as nobody is after someone, but there's a growing number of folks who are after something, and that something is information and oversight.
There's no doubt that the situation we find our city in, the problems most departments are facing, can be at least partially attributed to a lack of oversight and accountability. And it's been going on way too long. Before this administration I'm sure, but the buck stops here. We have to stop the bleeding. New albany, sadly, has been badly wounded.
It's time to fix old problems, and set the records straight. This is not the time to throw ALL our precious resources into a project that most folks know very little about.
If the Mayor is truly not aware of the divided sentiments in this town regarding the YMCA/Scribner Place project, then he is truly unaware of us "little people" who are just trying to survive out here.

Monday, June 06, 2005

NA vs Summerville,SC

Here is yet another example of how a bedroom community of a large city has made it work for its downtown area. Summerville,SC is 25 miles from Charleston,SC.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Council Conducts Workshop re: YMCA Scribner Place

I attended the workshop last night regarding the YMCA Scribner Place project as did several others who I am now familiar with.
Unfortunately, it was a smaller turnout than I expected for this opportunity for insight into more information. But, there were some absences that suggested to me that this meeting's content and intent was already known by some.
It was rather boring, amounting to a sales pitch, but I felt obliged to get as many facts as I could so I could offer what info I could gather. Thank goodness it ended rather quickly.
One thing of particular interest, or irony, depending on how you take it...the slick bounded proposal for the $20 million Phase I project.
It was noted that the picture on the front cover was not actually what the proposal was, as the plans for the "Plaza" (walkout to riverfront) have been scrapped as a cost savings measure.
So...what you see is NOT what you get.
I will give a full account on Friday.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Steve Stemle

Switching gears, kudos to Steve Stemle for chasing his dream. Hey New Albany, get behind this guy and back him 100%.


Laura thanks so much for finally coming around and setting up some parameters for your blog. Maybe you should have thought of that in the beginning and we would have all been clear of the game you wished to play. Here is another thought, if you are going to limit who may post or not post because of your personal clash and difference of opinions, then maybe you should delete this blog page all together. My little test of the Nation article that I posted has played out just how I thought it would. You have no organization to what you wish here on this blog and it has developed towards a pissing match with you and anyone you wish not to agree with. Being able to voice ones opinion IS the nice thing about web logs in general. Maybe you would like it better if you just allowed any and everyone to post without a face and not get the true meaning of how people, real people feel about things that transpire in this community.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Allowed and Not Allowed on This Blog

This Blog is here for folks to discuss City issues and ask questions or make comments regarding the state of affairs within New Albany's political administration, decision making processes, and the future of our town. What this blog is NOT for, is to host a log of personal opinions about anybody's personal life, job, or actions unrelated to City business (thus the anonymity).
For anyone who wishes to do otherwise, I strongly suggest you find another place to do it, as it will all be deleted from this site. It is inapproporiate and unwelcomed.
Mr. Baylor, as for posting privileges, I am not at all convinced that you will follow the guidelines I have set forth for this blog, in-so-far-as you have been uncooperative even with the admonishments I have previously made. Therefore, I will not be extending posting abilities to you until you can show that you are able to participate in these discussions without being rude, or outright out of line. Furthermore, we will not discuss this decision on this blog. Again, it is outside the rhelm of topics for this format.
Now, as for City topics, the Thursday nights "workshop" for council members should be very informative in regards to the YMCA Scribner Place project. I expect the bond issue will be discussed. Perhaps we will all have the benefit of more knowledge regarding this issue after that meeting.
Also, as a matter of thanks to all others who participate in this blog, I would like to say that I support anyone who raises reasonable questions and asks for answers. On this blog, or in a public forum where we are (slightly) allowed to ask questions of our elected representatives. The majority of people just want to know what is happening to their money.

City Council - Scribner Place

To all who have been debating the YMCA Scribner Place project, the City Council has announced they will be holding a "special" Workshop session at 6:30 Thursday night, 6/02/05 to discuss the Scribner Place project. The public is allowed to attend, but no comments or questions will be allowed (public meeting?).
Why are they holding this special meeting instead of discussing this with the concerned public?
Why hold this meeting now when the council meets again next Monday?
Will they be discussing Bond issues, and if they will be backed with property taxes?
Will this raise our property taxes?

Although no questions will be taken or answered directly, this will be very informative.
I suggest for those of us who are concerned, or who may have differing opinions, or different information, that we attend this important meeting to find out some real answers.
It's time we know exactly what will be happening.

Check this out

While the cats away, the mice will play-