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Monday, January 2, 2012

No Public Hearing for the Big Tent on Union Square

You can go look at the Agenda for City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday night January 3, 2012. The appropriations for the "Canopy Structure" has been placed in the Consent Agenda. So once again you see that our "Conspiracy Theory" once again ends up being "Conspiracy Fact." Including the appropriations at the airport, they have now designated spending on short term projects right at $500,000, with no public discussion, in the past two weeks.

It would feel good to be right if this weren't another travesty of the Democratic Process, but Hickory most definitely has the governance it deserves. I'm not going any further into this, because I would only be forced to repeat myself for the 1,000+ time. Everyone that is paying attention knows what the deal is.

B. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 12 (Exhibit VI.B.)

1. To transfer $44,474 of General Fund Contingency to the Unemployment Insurance line item. This transfer is necessary to cover an unexpected increase in the City of Hickory’s annual Unemployment Insurance expense to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.
2. To appropriate $285,976 of Capital Reserve Parking Fund and budget for the construction of the Permanent Structure Canopy Project for Union Square.

C. Capital Project Ordinance No. 1 (Exhibit VI.C.)
1. To accept a $285,976 appropriation of Capital Reserve Parking Fund Balance and budget for the Construction of the Permanent Structure Canopy Project for Union Square.


harryhipps said...

If they want the public's input they'll beat it out of them.

Anonymous said...

I have read all of the information here on The Hickory Hound and in the council meeting minutes and I am somewhat confused by this whole project. What is the true purpose of this "Big Tent", "Permenent Structure", or whatever one wants to call it? Is it for the farmers market? Will all of the market vendors be able to fit in this structure or is it a stage for the various festivals held downtown? How large is this structure? For $285k it better be pretty big and have multiple uses. Is this space to be rented out so there is some return on the investment? Exactly what is the return on investment (ROI)? Was there any due diligence
performed by council before commiting to this project? From what I have read most all of the council members had questions regarding this structure which leads me to believe that council voted and approved a project that even they don't fully understand. Is this stucture made of wood, masonry,or metal. Are there alternative materials that could be used for the roofing? In eight to ten years when the roof needs replacing, what will the costs be for for a new roof? Is that considered in the ROI? Does this material meet state building codes? Will the structure be handicap accessable? The questions go on and on. Seems to me that with over half of the costs for this project being planning and development someone is getting the shaft here and that somebody is me (the taxpayer). I am a lifelong resident, voting taxpayer in the city of Hickory and I think the taxpayers are not getting the proper representation from our council on this deal. Each council member should ask themselves this one question: If it was my money comming out of my pocket would I pay this much for something I don't fully understand? These funds could be used for other things right now like the cost over runs and change orders that keep comming in on the waste water treatment facility, additional sidewalks, job creation opportunities, etc. This tactic of "We need to act fast so it can be completed before the next season" is the oldest trick in the book used by car salesmen when you're about to get taken and we the people are probably about to be taken. Is your water bill to high? Mine is and so are my taxes. It is caused by our representatives spending our money without doing thier due diligence. Will this structure become a hang out for the less fortunate homeless people and then be closed or restricted like our "PUBLIC" restrooms, that are really not public since they're closed. I am sure we can count on our mayor and some council members to be there at ground breaking or completion to have thier picture put in paper. WOW, a $285k photo op.

Silence DoGood said...

All viable Anonymous. Thom can best answer most of those questions, since I was not present at the meeting. But you’ll notice where that money is coming from. It is being appropriated from a Capital Reserve Account. In budget parlance, that means that account and the money in it rolls over each budget year to the next. How is it funded? I have no idea and I’ll venture a guess that revenues from parking permits and parking fines are the main streams for that fund. Now, was that the future funding source for a parking deck in downtown Hickory? Did new meters get paid for out of that fund? Did that fund help pay for vehicles used by the meter folks as an enterprise fund subsidy to General Fund expenditures? I don’t know. Those are viable in my speculation on ‘what if.’ Insofar as the questions by council are concerned, the curiosity may have erstwhile been feigned to demonstrate ‘debate’ on the issue. The unexpected part was quite probably the motion from the Mayor.

This whole concept of “Unity” is of primary concern to me. I really have no problem with a unanimous vote, as long as there is sufficient debate on the issue to be voted on. It’s almost like a widget machine though. You stand there with a blank look, pull the handle on the machine, and out drops a widget every time. Day in/day out, month-after-month, year-after-year. After a few hundred times, it becomes a mindless automaton task. Motion made, seconded, all in favor… widget. Motion made, seconded, all in favor… widget. And the head of this group, this unit, this singularly purposed of one mindset assemblage, not only sits at the head of but forces through any whim, notion, idea, and dalliance that strikes his fancy merely because, and that is the biggest travesty of all.

Why, with that being the paradigm of power, do you even need the rest of the council? Ok, there’s a state law, but why is allowing the Mayor a vote and to make motions such a stickler when it clearly violates State statutes and for clear and obvious reasons; to prevent from happening what is presently happening in Hickory. To give, at least some semblance of, democracy and representative governance to those who are governed. To allow the people a voice either through representation or directly at meetings and to provide a means of redress of grievance for those governed from those governing.

James Thomas Shell said...

The structure as I understand it is made of iron poles which will go several feet into the ground and then then it will have a fiberglass material tethered to it much like they have on domed stadium. That material will be somewhat translucent to allow natural light to shine through it, yet it won't allow moisture to penetrate. It ranges from 10 feet to 14 feet in height -- front to back. It is supposed to fit all of the current vendors under it, which I believe is somewhere around 35. And it is supposed to take up the center grassy area of Union Square Common, where the old cannon is located.

As far as any Returns on Investment, or proposals as to achieve such returns, none were given. And yes, the Council didn't seem to have a clue what they were investing in. It appeared as though just doing something was the goal. There appeared to be no due diligence. Why do I say that? There was no discovery, no public discussion, no public notice, and no bidding process. How many multi-million dollar corporations operates in such a fashion? Especially if they expect to be successful?

Yes, I do believe that most of the money will come from the parking revenue and fine sources. That money was intended to build additional parking. That fund has become a slush fund for these types of activities, instead of what it was intended for. So the next time you pay a parking ticket downtown, look and see what it is going for. That fine isn't going to alleviate the parking problem. It is going to pay for other stuff.

I saw the insert by Tim Cline Properties yesterday in the inside of the HDR. "Move your business to Downtown Hickory" it said. And then it went on to express and infer about all of the incentives that are available for that move. I have nothing against Tim Cline. He's another businessman trying to make a buck in a bad market. What I want to know is if any of those incentives are being furnished by Hickory taxpayers? And if they are, why? We aren't seeing incentives furnished to much more needy areas in this city and giving someone money to fix up a storefront or interior isn't going to create a sustainable market dynamic that will move Union Square forward.

harryhipps said...

DoGood, As the Mayor and Jill Patton have stated before: "We are all of one mind"

As the Wizard said: "Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain."

Silence DoGood said...

Yessiree Harry. And look at the singlemindedness behind the 'tent'. Mayor's motion seconded by Jill Patton... widget.

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