The Dirty Side of the Arena Project

February 15, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I am working my way through issues surrounding the Haymarket Arena project as I decide how I will vote in May. One of the issues on my mind right now is the cleanliness of the site. That is, what surprises lurk underground thanks to decades of use by railroads? The City’s deal with BNSF would “release BNSF from legal liability for any environmental damage”. That’s fine for making a deal, but what does that mean for those of us who will be stuck with the bill?

... Nuts, I’m needed at work right away. I’m going to have to make this shorter than I intended. ...

On page 135 of this document (PDF, 7MB) you can start to read about some of the environmental issues that need to be dealt with. Are you satisfied that Lincoln won’t get stuck with any gigantic clean-up bills from the EPA is the arena vote passes? What lingering questions, if any, do you have about the arena project from an environmental standpoint?

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The Comments

Blaine February 15, 2010 at 7:55pm

Buying up all environmental liability, including unidentified damage, is a classic business blunder. Usually the buyer didn’t pay enough attention to realize they were ending up with the liability. To KNOWINGLY take on unidentified damage is ludicrous.

http://montanariveraction.org/milltown.dam.html

meatball February 15, 2010 at 10:25pm

My understanding is that the dollars factored into the project’s budget for environmental cleanup of the site are based on a worst-case senario. And the city will purchase insurance to protect itself should it turn into a worse-than-worst-case senario.

Mr. Wilson February 15, 2010 at 10:37pm

The trouble with a worst-case scenario is that it would not only cost us a ton of cash, it is very likely to cost us a lot of time. A large enough shift in the timeline could have all sorts of cascading effects, such as UNL dropping out. Theoretically.

Lincolnite February 16, 2010 at 12:25am

Perhaps I’m gullible, but I felt comfortable after listening to the gentleman (can’t remember who he represented) at the Council hearing He was talking about all of the deep samples over the past few years that they’ve been taking and there has been little to no contamination in those samples.  Granted, it’s not every single square inch, but personally I felt like they were on top of it.  Again, I could just be gullible…

meatball February 16, 2010 at 3:04am

If you’re gullible, then I guess I am too. I’m satisfied the issue is being addressed. What gets me is those in the anti-arena crowd who talk like no one’s even considered possible contamination or what to do about it.

Fletch February 16, 2010 at 6:01am

I find the anti-arena crowd, at least the ones that I have heard or read, to be much less informed than the pro-arena crowd. Like I said the other day, I think there would be legit reasons to be opposed, but most of the stuff you hear is just silly.

Lincolnite February 16, 2010 at 1:34pm

I don’t want to belittle others for their viewpoints, but today’s letter to the editor is a prime example in my mind about the anti-arena crowd.  Mr Kehm said we oughta spend the $344 million on road repair.  Now, you know as well as I do that he’d probably be the first to complain about property tax increases, but where would that $344 million come from to repair the roads?  A “donor” like John Breslow?  Perhaps we could have naming rights on the roads?  I struggle to find the rationale in that thinking. 

One thing that I’d love to ask a lot of people who believe we should spend the money on roads…“did you vote yes a few years ago on the bond issue to fix roads?”

Oh well, I’m beginning to feel it’s all for naught anyway…

CS February 17, 2010 at 4:56pm

Good call. How many millions of dollars did it cost Omaha to clean up the Midtown area? Was that handled by the railroad(s)or locally? *Im not from there, so I don’t know* I don’t think Lincoln is in a position to handle the EPA nightmare that tearing up those old tracks would cause.

CS February 17, 2010 at 4:57pm

IM not against the arena at all, but we can’t go in unaware of the collateral costs involved, either.

Errandbug Restaurant Delivery February 21, 2010 at 11:19am

Long ago when they were looking at all the potential sites for this project…this one was the most expensive.  Leave it to those who don’t pay the bill for it to pick the most expensive site on the list.  There were several other choices out there…and this one was the most expensive and also the most risky for issues, ie, have to move half the railroad.  There were plenty of option out there…And NO PROJECT Lincoln takes on stays under budget…Antelope Valley, yeah…over double what was expected.  Get ready folks for surprises!

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