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Monday, April 30, 2012

Now up to $420,000+ for the Tent on Union Square

I keep wanting to move past this issue, but the only way to do that is to capitulate and why should we do that? I know that city leadership banks on the people of Hickory being asleep at the wheel and so far that has been a winning game that allows them to do whatever they want.

Here is the latest per the Hickory City Council Agenda packet for May 1, 2012:
Request for Additional Funding from the Capital Reserve Parking Fund and Consolidate Public Service Department Expenditures into the Union Square Pavilion Project (Exhibit IX.B.3.)

The project scope broadened when the project moved into the engineering phase in January. The increase in the contract with Neill Grading is $58,852.00, and the consolidation of Public Services Department expenses is $59,288.00. The remaining cost is an estimate of $25,000.00 for outdoor furniture for the space.

Staff recommends approval on two readings for additional funding from the Capital Reserve Parking Fund and consolidation of Public Services Department Expenditures into the Union Square Pavilion Project in the amount of $137,940.00 for Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 21 and Capital Project Ordinance Amendment No. 1.

The initial appropriation for this structure was $285,976 and now add an additional $137,940 and that brings us to a grand total of $423,916. How are you (137,940/423,916=) 32.5% off on your initial cost structure for this project. It sure doesn't seem like the budget and accounting gurus had their I's dotted and T's crossed on this one. Of course they will say that I am Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but I dare you to go look and see what I wrote looking forward on December 20, 2011 and subsequently about this project.
Isn't it ironic that we can't come up with $400,000 (city government estimated cost) that can be amortized over multiple years to build a pool, but we can come up with $285,000 Johnny on the spot to put up these structures and Zagaroli states that the fabric has a lifespan of 10 years. One issue for the poor and one issue for the connected, which one wins? Who wants to bet that a decent pool could have been built for less, but this structure and the ancillary expenses are going to cost much, much more.
Now how much were those pools going to cost again? The city estimated that it would cost $850,000 (that's $425,000 per pool) to completely rebuild the two swimming pools and make them fully Handicap accessible. Of course we associated with the Hound were told and shown ways to get around the issues facing the pools and drastically reduce those costs. The city also never looked into competitive bidding to see ways to reduce costs. We believe that they wanted to come up with a big number to justify what they set out to do to start with and that was to completely shut down the City Swimming Pools.

What is the priority? This is pure and simple logic for anyone with a half a brain cell left. This is an apples to apples comparison. $425,000 for a pool for poor and middle class kids or $425,000 for the connected friends of Hickory City Leadership and you see how this works.

On one hand we had pools that the city never properly maintained and so they fell into disrepair and the city says shut them down and bury them asunder. On the other hand we had a fully functionable Farmer's Market that by all accounts was working and a stage and set up for Downtown events that by all accounts worked just fine. Yet, the decision makers associated with Union Square are demanding an upgrade and they expect the City to pick up the bill. And don't forget the people in the Ridgeview Community approached the city about taking over the swimming pools and running them through a non-profit. Have the property owners and businesses at Union Square offered to contribute to these upgrades on Union Square? Upgrades that if they play their cards right that they will directly benefit from.

More Points: What does Capital Reserve Parking Fund mean? How is this being utilized for parking. People complain about Washington this and Washington that. This is the exact same thing as the TARP boondoggle. Passed for one purpose and utilized for something completely different. If we are going to complain about it happening in Washington, then we need to complain about it happening in Hickory. It is pure and simply a slush fund folks. You might want to live in denial, it may personally benefit you, or you might not have the courage to admit what it is, but in the end it is what it is.

They spent this money in January and apparently they are doing it all off budget (with the parking slush fund) and this City Council sits back as if this is business as usual... Nothing to see here folks... move along, move along. They might play a shell game to justify this and my last name being Shell, I understand shell games, but anyone with any sense can see that this is unethical. Hello local news media... H-E-L-L-O!!! is there anybody out there?

There are many more questions that should be answered. Will there be a public discussion about this?

(P.S.) Is the naming of this structure being rigged in the favor of Alderman Hank Guess's son? If one goes to the Hickory Speaks website, they will see the first place name being "The Front Porch." 

Isn't there a cash prize associated with the naming of this structure? If an Alderman's son is awarded cash based on this little contest, would that not be an obvious conflict of interest? The name "Front Porch" came from Julia Rush's editorial in the HDR last year in which she stated that Hickory Alive wasn't a "Classy" event and that Union Square was our "Front Porch" and only classy events should be allowed to take place on Union Square -- The Front Porch.

You can't make this stuff up. 

(As of 5/5/2012 the name "The Front Porch" has been removed from the above site - Maybe local officials realized that the way it was introduced was an obvious conflict of interest - Thank You.)


Silence DoGood said...

Porch up front, cesspool in the rear! Business as usual for the 'culture on the square' set. Doesn't matter what its made of, as long as it looks good and its what the well connected wanted. Everybody else can just suck it up. I'm curious Thom, how much money over, say, the last 5 years have been sucked out of the parking garage fund? Enough to actually build a parking garage? Enough to solve the downtown parking limitations? Enough to faciliate a larger crowd actually coming to downtown. Maybe thats the entire point however. The downtown 'DO' crew doesn't want more people on their front porch... what would they do?

harryhipps said...

I hope the Hickory Coliseum has a better time than the tent in St Louis that blew down.