How Long Should We Talk?

January 30, 2007 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

At what point should Lincoln say: Enough talk; let’s vote and start doing something. I’m referring, of course, to the public aspect of the plans envisioned by the 2015 Vision Group. The Group can (and should) do whatever it wants to do with its own resources. But many of the Group’s ideas will require assistance from the City—which means you and I have a say. And boy do Lincolnites have a lot to say.

If you were in charge, would you set a date by which we have to make a decision? Or would you let the conversation continue until a consensus emerges?

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The Comments

Diane K January 30, 2007 at 2:26pm

Vote? Just like the massive and expensive Antelope Valley Project (which also required City assistance and resources),there won’t be any vote. Several of the projects of the Vision Group are already underway, or are so firmly entrenched in the group’s (and UNL’s) mindset (such as moving the State Fair), that I don’t think they really care what the public thinks. The public meetings are primarily for show, just like the ones they had during the Antelope Valley Project, where people tried to give input, and heads were nodded, and the people subsequently ignored.

As far as setting decision dates, that depends on the projects. Some are already underway, others are difficult to set a timeline on. But some, like whether we’re building a new event center, should be decided upon and soon so we know what direction we’re going.

Can’t say I’m confident as to where the money’s coming from. If our taxes go up even further, is that going to drive people from Lincoln, or will folks appreciate a downtown football field so much that they’ll stay anyway?

Fletch January 30, 2007 at 4:57pm

I think that for the city overall, the conversation and dialogue is good. I think it helped before the school bond issue that there were a lot of meetings and a lot of input solicited, even though a pair of schools got cut in the final anaylsis between the recommendation and the bond issue.

Isn’t 2015 sort of an agressive timeframe? Wouldn’t it have made sense in a marketing a time way to call it “2020 Vision” since that’s a phrase we are all used to any way (you know, 20/20 vision).

It’s all in the marketing and the presentation. But they can’t expect they will wave a magic wand and us Lincolnites will magically appear with a billion dollars to spend. They need to be creative and let the private sector do what it does best.

Neal January 30, 2007 at 5:19pm

I think Diane K is right. It’s going to happen - with public money - without a vote. I think these meetings are to give the illusion of public input because someone probably told the powers that be “Hey, the people won’t like this if they don’t think they have a say.”

Fletch January 30, 2007 at 6:44pm

I think Diane K and Neal are both right. It will happen with public money. My only question is where exactly will all that money come from? We already can’t seem to pay the city bills.

Neal January 30, 2007 at 6:51pm

Oh they’ll just cut stuff like parks and pools and other things the city actually needs.

One area to watch out is pension funds. In San Diego, Petco Park, the convention center and the improvements to Qualcomm Stadium were paid for by the public. To hide the costs and the huge chunk they were taking out of the city budget, the city and the city employees’ pension board struck a deal to underfund the pension system - making the books look balanced - in exchange for increased benefits for city employees.

Now, the city’s pension fund is $1.6 billion under-funded, the city can’t issue bonds because they haven’t completed an audit since 2003, the city’s water and sewage systems are horribly outdated, police and fire are under-funded, and streets are falling apart. They’ve already leveraged their entire tobacco settlement and had to turn to borrowing from private lenders in attempts to pay the bills, making the overall situation worse.

But the city has a pretty convention center, the Padres have a lovely stadium downtown, and the Chargers are now looking for a city who will give them a brand new stadium, because mean ol’ San Diego won’t.

Mr. Wilson January 30, 2007 at 7:42pm

...the Padres have a lovely stadium downtown…

And it is a very, very beautiful stadium, by the way. In fact, San Diego’s downtown revitalization as a whole is very attractive. It’s a model Lincoln should emulate.

...except for all the stuff you noted, not to mention their abuse of eminent domain and myriad other reasons.

Oh well, at least the Top Gun bar still serves up the best damn beans I’ve ever eaten.

Neal January 30, 2007 at 8:32pm

What part of their model would you like to have emulated?

It has, as you note, been largely based on eminent domain, issuing “loans” of public money by way of the Centre City Development Corp that are never collected, no environmental studies - and when they are done they’re ignored, allowing developers to sidestep laws in exchange for paying a small fee, giving away public land, putting elements up for public vote that are then changed after the ballot is approved…

The only nice part of the “model” is that it turned out pretty.

Getting people to live downtown is a plus, and having a Ralph’s downtown is helpful for the residents. But they consciously under-build parking because the land is too valuable to NOT build condos (and not building enough parking garages won’t be a problem for downtown Lincoln).

I’d like to see Lincoln follow the Country Club Plaza’s model and make parking free. Considering how much money is lost on the parking police, making parking free downtown would definitely increase visitors.

Mr. Wilson January 30, 2007 at 8:53pm

What part of their model would you like to have emulated?

...

The only nice part of the “model” is that it turned out pretty.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up what I was thinking grin

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