So this post is late, my apologies; but I wanted to make sure I have my cite references and facts correct, before I post it. Before I continue where I left off on Saturdays post about local politics and a general review and update of previous stories covered on F6 I want to cover with a little more depth a story I mentioned on the last post which is relatively new on the blogosphere.
The local Redevelopment Commission issued an RFP two months ago (pdf) for their latest project to tear apart a perfectly good parking lot that is across the street from the County Jail, directly south of a major events venue, and is less than two blocks away from the City County Building and Courthouse in order to put in yet another strip of restaurants in downtown Fort Wayne. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea and why their overall failure to realize the diminishing return such a process would promote along with continuing to use and follow a blueprint that was written out back in 2002 is ridiculous.
The current plans without an overall review intial turning this ground level, flat fee ($2 per day), parking area into a 4 story multi tenant, Restaurant Row, with even more condominiums, that will cost at minumum 3.5 million dollars right next door to two historic restaurants in the area, Don Hall's Gas House with Japanese Sushi Bar & Drinking Lounge on the River and Club Soda which is in the old Wayne Textile Building. Parking in that area is already severely limited because a good portion is restricted by either any Event's Vendors or Performers and the main free parking is technically owned by the restaurant's that already exist near the location of the "planned new development". What parking is left during the week is used by people whom cant afford to pay to park or are handicapped and are going to be spending a longer period of time within the City-County Government Complex and cant risk there health by walking back and forth to their car to feed a meter.
There are several other things wrong with this plan and the overall parking issues in down town as a whole.
First the current plan
1. We dont need more restaurants in downtown yet, and truthfully we dont need more development of a perfectly good parking lot either.
2. This is the cheapest parking lot in the area and the next non metered paid public parking for 4 blocks from the City County Building and 5 blocks from the Jail is at two dollars an hour with a maximum per day of seven.
Just north of this parking area and Head Waters Park is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge which will be undergoing a complete renovation also.
Second the FWRC
1. Some one needs to direct the Redevelopment Commission to stop offering a tax abatement as the first line of luring potential builders into one of their new tangled projects. Please reference article 7 of the RFP.
2. When the FWRC is putting the scandal and corruption (as noted by previous projects and the City's lack of forthrightness to provide the CITIZENS let alone City Council full and accurate details) right into the documents themselves (Article 13 of the RFP) it is time for the Citizens to stand up and demand an account for their tax dollars and order City Hall to cease and desist.
- 13:6 A list of teams submitting proposals may be made public, however because this project is designated as a real estate negotiation and contents are confidential, actual proposal contents will not be made public, to the extent allowable by law.
- 13:7 Communication regarding this process with other local officials is strongly discouraged in order to protect the integrity of the selection process.
There is no other public parking in the area that is non metered besides the CCB Parking Garage (number 14 on the map) and costs seven dollars a day max.
Metered parking is restricted to two hours to the pointe that Parking Enforcement Officers now chalking tires to tell whether someone has been at a metered space for longer than two hours, which I consider subjectively harassment.
Additionally, we already have a crap load of restaurants in that area; why add more at tax payers expense? Because they want to spend taxpayer dollars as if it is a Cart Blanche ticket to make the City vital when in fact neither is the end result. Traditionally there is diminished return on the investment and more than likely in five to ten years half of those businesses will be out of the City Pet Complex especially when their tax abatement go away when Libertarians take over a majority of the City's elected offices in three years!
Lastly lets look at job creation.
Most restaurants wont be paying their employees 150% over Federal Minimum Wage so City Council will probably again override their own rules (McDonald's and Subway) when it comes to accepting an abatement proposal. So the taxpayer get screwed twice up the ass without the benefit of lube or a reach around; once for the substandard jobs, and two for the fact that the businesses wont be paying their share of the property taxes.
These new 15 -25 jobs to begin initially with the standardization of prices in public parking venues will be a great part time position for welfare parents to get back into the workforce all while they sit on their ass and collect money from us, as we can once again afford to do our business in downtown since we are then not getting wracked over the cement barricade to park our cars for several hours at a time.
So what should be done?
1. Eliminate Parking Enforcement and transfer the Officers to Nieghborhood Code Enforcement. Handicap parking enforcement can still be handled by a volunteer squad of citizens.
2. Standardize Parking Fees in PUBLIC lots and garages between .25 and .50 cents per hour all day every day and no nights and weekends free. This will add plenty of jobs to the economy and at a resonable rate of pay.
3. If tax payers payed for the garage or lot to be built they shouldnt have to pay to park there that includes on street parking, the Memorial Coliseum, and the Library.
4. Reset or review the 2002 blueprint and stop all further development according to the old plan until it is completely upgraded.
5. Force the Redevelopment Commission to be transparent in all dealings and process negotiations. Force City Council by active protest to direct FWRC to stop issuing incentives for development without authorization directly from that body on a case by case basis.
6. Be very weary folks the next thing coming down the pike is bicycle and moped registrations and paying to park them as well downtown.