Thursday, June 16, 2005


Good News for the Square, Bad News for the Banks

Looks like there may be a hiccup in the Banks plan announced by the county. There was a sum of $25 million in place through a federal grant for building some of the parking garages (the gist is that because the garage ties into the 2nd street bus depot money for 'mass transit' could be used for the garage). Now that the county recieved $10 million in private money to help pay for the garages, they were going to shift half of the federal grant to build streets instead. Only problem, apparently that money can't be used for streets.

But before folks start jumping up and down I think there are two things to take note of. First this comment from the guy at OKI that manages the federal grant money:

Mark Policinski, executive director at OKI, said there is a possibility OKI
could route funds through the Surface Transportation Program, which does not
carry the requirement to reduce congestion. He said local officials should
pull together to ensure that the change doesn't endanger the entire project,
especially with a promise of $10 million in private money from Corporex and

"My reaction is, we have worked very diligently with 3CDC and the port
over eight or nine months to move this issue forward," he said. "And now
literally in one thunderbolt, they (county officials) have brought in $10
million in private-sector money. To me, that's very impressive. Nothing talks
like other people putting their money into the game."

So straight from the gatekeepers mouth, there should and will be a way to work through this. But the second thing that comes to mind is that you shift the $10 million that the developers came up with from the garage to some other portion of the project. Perhaps the building of the flood wall, or building the streets. There is nothing saying a developer can't hand over some cash to the government to build roads. So, while this isn't good news, I wouldn't say this is the end of the line for the County proposal.

Why are we trying to avoid mass transit? I would like to see more mass transit. Light rail maybe. I think it is sad that we are so dedicated to our cars that we can not think of a way to spend 10 million on mass transit.
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