$1.3 Million Overhead

June 18, 2012 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Let’s compare two numbers.

  1. On Give to Lincoln Day, Lincolnites raised $1.3 million for a variety of local non-profits. The money will be used for everything from clothing foster children to rescuing animals to beautifying neighborhoods.
  2. The JPA recently approved $1.3 million to renovate a 1,200 foot train platform canopy. The money will be used to refurbish the steel and wooden structure.

When you think about how you want your local community to spend $1.3 million, which of these feels better?

Now, I realize there’s a bit of an apples and bananas comparison going on here. It’s really not fair to put these two numbers side-by-side. And yet, doesn’t seeing them presented this way kind of give you a crummy feeling in your gut?

I appreciate the need for “atmosphere” in West Haymarket, and I understand why this canopy is going to be a part of it. But can anybody tell me with a straight face that refurbishing this old canopy for $1.3 million is a better use of funds than spending significantly less on a brand new replica? I’ll wager that there’s a healthy batch of talented local guys looking for work who could craft a darn good facsimile for half the cost of the refurbished original. I’m all for preservation, but I despise preservation for its own sake. It needs to be coupled with common sense. A significant chunk of this $1.3 million expenditure is far removed from anything resembling common sense.

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The Comments

George June 19, 2012 at 1:03am

How much would a new canopy cost?  Does it outweigh the loss of a historical aspect of our city?

I can’t really say that I’m against refurbishing the canopy (coming from the person who did not vote for the arena and am still pretty anti-arena).  The Haymarket is already going to be downgraded in historical accuracy with the arena, and I’m all for looking around at the surrounding structures and finding ways to negate the ugliness of the newness of the arena.

JT June 19, 2012 at 1:11pm

I have no problem spending that money once in a hundred years to preserve a historic building.

Mr. Wilson June 19, 2012 at 3:17pm

I don’t have problems preserving historic buildings either. But the canopy isn’t historic, it’s just old.

The Capitol Building? Historic. Love Library? Historic. A lead-covered canopy that nobody would’ve missed if it had just up and disappeared one day? Not historic.

meatball June 19, 2012 at 3:26pm

How much of the $1.3 million would have been spent anyway just to properly remove and dispose the lead paint? I have no clue.

Is it going to cost more to maintain the refurbished version than it would have cost to maintain a new structure? I have no idea.

Regardless, I prefer to refurbish the old. I don’t know why. I generally oppose the preservation-for-preservation-sake concept, too (I think because there’s rarely a plan, just the preservationists saying someone needs to come in a save this or that building). But in this case, it’s in the budget and should be the most aesthetically pleasing option.

meatball June 19, 2012 at 3:55pm

I would have missed it. I always have thought the canopy was kind of a cool component to the whole Lincoln Station/Iron Horse Park package.

Nikkidemas June 19, 2012 at 8:46pm

I agree with meatball.  I also think it’s cool & would’ve missed it.  But $1.3M??  Wow.  That’s hard to swallow.  I don’t know anything about the restoration process, but that seems like a lot of money!

joe June 19, 2012 at 11:29pm

Mr. Wilson, I’ll respectfully disagree.

I really think a new, faux-old canopy would look like junk, but that’s besides the point. You can make this argument ad infinitum with all the money the city is spending on the arena, or roads, or anything.

A charity isn’t always a better means of putting that money to good use (I’ve worked with a number of the charities on that list, and come away less than impressed in a few cases). That 1.3mliion is a handful of jobs and the benefits for the families of the workers.

Fletch June 19, 2012 at 11:35pm

I’d call Rick’s Restorations in Vegas and get another bid.

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