Speak Out Loud NA

Friday, June 03, 2005

Council Conducts Workshop re: YMCA Scribner Place

I attended the workshop last night regarding the YMCA Scribner Place project as did several others who I am now familiar with.
Unfortunately, it was a smaller turnout than I expected for this opportunity for insight into more information. But, there were some absences that suggested to me that this meeting's content and intent was already known by some.
It was rather boring, amounting to a sales pitch, but I felt obliged to get as many facts as I could so I could offer what info I could gather. Thank goodness it ended rather quickly.
One thing of particular interest, or irony, depending on how you take it...the slick bounded proposal for the $20 million Phase I project.
It was noted that the picture on the front cover was not actually what the proposal was, as the plans for the "Plaza" (walkout to riverfront) have been scrapped as a cost savings measure.
So...what you see is NOT what you get.
I will give a full account on Friday.

41 Comments:

  • I was talking to a friend the other day about the Scribner Place project. He's all for it, but made the comment that although it keeps getting scaled back (like the Plaza over the floodwall), the costs don't seem to be dropping in relation to the scale-back.

    Does anyone know what the original proposed costs were, and what they are now?

    One of my concerns about this project is the hole through the floodwall rather than the walkway over it. It makes more sense to go over instead of under for a variety of reasons. Has a presentation ever been made that compares the costs of both?

    By Blogger New Alb Annie, at 6:46 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • I believe that when Mayor Overton first proposed it, the project was billed as a $60million + investment, but it was never clear what that really meant. Combined investment from all parties?

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 7:23 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • Annie,

    Can you explain why you think going over the floodwall is better than cutting a couple of holes?

    By Blogger bluegill, at 8:42 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • Coffey's entertaining idea - why doesn't YMCA fit the bill? Why does the city need to co-sign for their investment? Why won't the financing work without the city?

    It appears to me that YMCA is resourceful when it comes to raising their share of the money.

    Any thoughts?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:16 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • It's a symbiotic relationship. Both parties benefit from the development. Is it really unrealistic to ask the city to contribute it's share?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:37 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 10:26 AM, June 03, 2005  

  • I agree with the above comment concerning the mutually beneficial relationship.

    I would also add that when one makes a commitment (regardless of whether they are an individual, company or municipality), one should honor that commitment, especially when others have based multi-million dollar decisions on it.

    In my opinion, reneging on the promise to fund Scribner Place would not only risk the loss of millions of dollars in private investment in downtown now, but would also seriously damage the entire municipality's credibility, making it more difficult to attract other investment in the future.

    I would strongly prefer that governments keep their promises. An argument against funding Scribner Place seems to be an argument that the city, in our name, should break one.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 3:17 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • I feel the right move for the taxpayers. Is for the YMCA take the money from the boat. And private donations should all be used for Scribner place. And leave The City Of New Albany out of this. We will have to put Taxes on our Property to borrow Bond Money. Which means all of our Property Taxes will go up. Let YMCA build it. YMCA Handle Maintance,Rent out portions to other business. The YMCA stated there coming to New Albany regardless. Also let the City of New Albany sell the property to the YMCA. Let them pay for the clean up. Then the monies paid back to the City can help with this mess we are in!!! And you all get your YMCA and the Taxpayers of New Albany are not "BURDEN" with the bill...

    By Anonymous Concern Taxpayer, at 8:14 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • Concern Taxpayer,

    Could you please explain what you mean by the statement below:

    "We will have to put Taxes on our Property to borrow Bond Money. Which means all of our Property Taxes will go up."

    By Blogger bluegill, at 8:18 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • So what really gets me. Is all the land and business that were bought with my tax dollars. For Scribner place. Mr. Garner states for $1.00 That is what New Alany will charge the YMCA to Lease the land? After my Tax Dollars was used to pay for this land? This Whole deal does not set well with me. This goes back to why we need an Investigation. Can anyone give the amount of money spent to buy this land?

    By Blogger One voice, at 8:31 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • new albany resident,

    Are you saying you're angry that the city purchased the land even though you don't how much it cost?

    You said:

    "So what really gets me. Is all the land and business that were bought with my tax dollars."

    And then you said:

    "Can anyone give the amount of money spent to buy this land?"

    It seems kind of unusual to me that someone would be upset about a purchase if they didn't know what it cost.

    For instance, if my wife said "I just bought a new Corvette for $100,000", I'd be upset.

    But, if she said, "I just bought a new Corvette for $30,000", I'd be happy since I'd know it was a wise investment that would easily pay for itself and help us to make money.

    You also said:

    "This goes back to why we need an Investigation." What about the city purchasing land strikes you as illegal? Are cities not allowed to purchase land?

    By Blogger bluegill, at 8:52 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • This sentence strikes far closer to the truth behind the anon's ire:

    "And you all get your YMCA and the Taxpayers of New Albany are not "BURDEN" with the bill."

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 10:58 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • What I learned last night was that the City has purchased all the land, including $35K for a small lot that was "not particularly needed, but was a reasonable deal", is paying for all the cleanup (estimated up to $1 mil), and will lease to freshly cleaned land to the YMCA for $1 per year (yes, that's one dollar).
    I didn't hear anyone say what the total cost for the land came in at. Does anyone know for sure? It should be public record shouldn't it?
    As you can see I still have lots of questions. That is, since none were allowed from any member of the public.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 10:58 PM, June 03, 2005  

  • You would have to go to Barbara Sillings or Brenda Egge's office to get sales disclosures. Lots of luck finding your answers on the land deals? The computers are set up for taxes. And information is a year in the rear.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:16 AM, June 04, 2005  

  • Over and over and over again, the gross timidity of the 'Bune rears its head as a key element in this confusion and uncertainty.

    Why should Laura, or Baylor, or me, or any of YOU have to go to the city-county building (or wherever the hell Ms Sillings -slash- Egge labors) and get some runaround as the "computers not set up" to provide this information.

    Here you have the guv'mint... the citizens it is supposed to serve... and a lurking judiciary which settles things when necessary. Fine. What's missing? The Fourth Estate.

    The 'Bune has every right -- and a pro-active responsibility -- to find and provide this information. And not because a bunch of screaming bloggers demand it, but well before that.

    More than anyone I want to see downtown Gnawbnee re-vitalized -- and the Scribner Place project seems like a workable and worthwhile beginning -- but if I had a wish list, local ownership of the 'bune (with an aggressive M.E.) would top my list.

    By Blogger curmudgeon, at 6:19 AM, June 04, 2005  

  • Well said, Joe.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 8:12 AM, June 04, 2005  

  • Question: How much was spent on property purchase?

    Answer:

    Retailers Supply - $328,812.00
    Schmitt Furniture - $43468,877.57
    Dierking Properties - $380,976.08
    Goulding Parking Lots (Pearl) - $97,583.56 + $35,000.00

    Total: $1,306,249.10

    For your information

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:00 AM, June 04, 2005  

  • If memory serves me, these numbers are in keeping with what the city said about expenditures last fall.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 10:30 AM, June 04, 2005  

  • Those numbers also jive with what the Mayor said at the workshop. He said that they had budgeted $2.5 million for acquisition and clean up. With land acquisition complete, they are currently under budget if the estimated clean up cost of $1 million holds true.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 3:10 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • Forgot to add a capitalized Amen to emerson.

    While the 'Bune has admittedly shown some signs of life very recently, I all too often find myself nearly screaming questions at the newspaper.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 3:17 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • new slogan: "Support the Coffey Plan" get the city out of the YMCA business. or as Carly Simon sang "Nobody does it better" who best to manage and fund a YMCA ? The YMCA of course

    By Blogger Tim Deatrick, at 3:26 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • A mutually beneficial partnership generally consists of sharing the risks and the rewards of a common project or undertaking.
    The YMCA is undrtaking an $8 million dollar physical structure that is being funded primarily through private investors.
    As a testament to the long history and good image of the "Y" (if I may), they have already raised a substantial $5 million of that cost, and are confident the remaining investment proceeds necessary ($3 million) will be forthcoming.
    Meanwhile, the city of New Albany has "allocated" $2.5 million for acquisition of properties, demolition, and environmental clean-up for the site of the Y and a nautatorium.
    Once this work is accomplished, the land (or at least part of it) will be leased to the YMCA for $1 (one) dollar per year.
    Once the building is built, the YMCA will begin recieving revenues from memberships. They've been doing this a long time and their membership arrangements are posted at NA Confidential. I didn't know first time members paid a "joining fee".
    On the other side of this mutually beneficial relationship is the city that wants to borrow $15 million, using property taxes as a "backup" guarantee - for lower interest - (so we're only paying back $20K to borrow $15K), and pledge the use of $400K in EDIT dollars for the next...how many years? - (2009 was mentioned I think)- and use a $1 million pledge from Caesars "towards any downtown project" (at least it started that way), and they will build the nautatorium.
    The multi-bodied water facility, however, is not a YMCA project. Access and use of the water facilities will not be included in the YMCA membership package.
    Indeed, it has not yet been determined who will be overseeing the "water features" side of the project.
    It was noted that should a sought-after "we're still negotiating", arrangement for the Y to manage the facility, not work out, the duties will then fall to the Parks Department.
    I'm worried already and this is just the start of "Phase I".
    Love the YMCA, don't like the timing of this endeavor.
    But please, don't talk to me about the city's "Integrity" and the importance of keeping promises.
    Where's our code-enforcement officer to clean up this city???
    Oh, that's right. We can't afford one.
    Don't even get me started.
    But, is it just me, or has everyone been adamantly debating the financial "crisis" this city is in the middle of, under warnings that we may have to "shut down city services" if we don't borrow money to keep things going?
    I just think the public deserves some answers. Too much is still unknown and not enough information has gotten to the general public. What about us "little guys"?

    By Blogger East Ender, at 7:22 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • Don't hold your breath on the code enforcement officer. Too many slumlords aka mayoral campaign contributors have too much to lose if that happens.

    By Blogger New Alb Annie, at 8:53 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • A sensible business person would be thinking about management of these
    Scribner facilities. The YMCA will manage their building. Who do you think will manage and pay the bills on the other buildings?

    Don't forget, we are paying $615,000. per year on Downtown Parking Garage, plus electric at about $800 per month. I heard that they are paying a hefty price for a company to run the garage.

    OK-- Guys-- Someone needs to be thinking of the cost of operation and
    upkeep of the planned buildings, give us some estimates on operation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • Regarding the tunnel vs. the walkway:

    If I remember the Mayor's explanation from a prior engagement, I think since the railroad passes over or near the floodwall, the mandated clearance over the tracks would put the walkway much too high to be practical.

    Regarding the axing of the riverview plaza:

    This is a shame and I hope it is put back into the project or added at a later date. Recall what a wonderful turn for the better the atmosphere in downtown Louisville made once they reoriented the city back toward the river via Riverfront Park and all of the subsequent projects.

    By Blogger Brandon W. Smith, at 11:46 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • Laura,

    I understand that you're concerned but I think you may have some misconceptions.

    I'll try to take it point by point and explain as best I can.

    1. Meanwhile, the city of New Albany has "allocated" $2.5 million for acquisition of properties, demolition, and environmental clean up for the site of the Y and a natatorium.

    The first $1 million of that is made up of the first of twenty Caesars payments of $1 million each. $400,000 came from an EPA grant. Another $400,000 is EDIT money that the council agreed to spend before the rules for EDIT money were changed. It had to be spent on economic development according to fairly strict rules. At the time of the vote, it couldn't be transferred to the general fund or any other fund.

    I admit to ignorance as to what fund(s) the other $700,000 came from. Perhaps someone else knows. If I find out, I'll let you know.

    The end result is that the city has so far spent $1.1 million, including the original $400,000 in restricted EDIT money. That figure assumes that the total clean up costs will be $1 million as estimated. Adjust accordingly. Caesars and the EPA have spent $1.4 million, thereby more than doubling the city's investment. I wish I could do that well.

    2. On the other side of this mutually beneficial relationship is the city that wants to borrow $15 million, using property taxes as a "backup" guarantee - for lower interest - (so we're only paying back $20K to borrow $15K), and pledge the use of $400K in EDIT dollars for the next...how many years? - (2009 was mentioned I think)

    What the city brings to the deal is borrowing power. As a municipality, the city has access to lower interest rates via bonds than do private investors. The use of property taxes as collateral lowers that interest rate even further, saving us millions over the life of the bond.

    Caesars however, will be paying back the majority of the bond.

    The first Caesars payment went to property acquisition and clean up as noted above. The next two payments go to the YMCA for its portion of the building. After that, the Caesars payments of $1 million per year (totaling $17 million) will go to pay off the city's bond. The city will use $400,000 in EDIT money per year for two years to make payments until the Caesars money kicks back in to the city.

    When the Caesars payments return to the city, the EDIT money will be used as an emergency back up mechanism should Caesars skip town or some other unforeseen catastrophe. The EDIT money cannot be pledged to another bond during that time. As long as Caesars makes its scheduled payment, however, the EDIT money can be spent on any pay-as-you-go projects for which the city sees fit to use it each year (according to EDIT rules, of course).

    If Caesars honors its commitment, the city will have invested a total of $1.9 million on Phase One while others will have invested approximately $28 million.

    3. I'm worried already and this is just the start of "Phase I".

    Thus far, there has been no talk that I'm aware of concerning public expenditure for Phase 2, which has always been focused on private investors who may be interested in housing, hotels, etc, that would fit well within the scope of the project.

    If that occurs, the city will almost certainly be better off due to the revenue generated by such businesses, as would downtown merchants who could serve residents, hotel guests, etc.

    If it doesn't occur, we've still turned a small investment into more than ten times its worth and generated what by most reasonable reckoning (namely the history of Y success that you noted) will be a steady stream of store customers, potential house buyers, and other potential investors into the long ailing downtown district.

    4. Once this work is accomplished, the land (or at least part of it) will be leased to the YMCA for $1 (one) dollar per year.

    This is actually one of the best parts of the deal. While the lease amount seems ridiculous, I'm guessing it's at least part of the reason that the Y chose downtown instead of some other piece of suburban property. You'll note that Mr. LaRocca said that the Y is definitely coming to New Albany. He didn't say that it's definitely coming to downtown.

    The beauty is though, that the city owns the land surrounding the Y. Once the Y is built, that prime commercial real estate will become more valuable. The city can then sell it to other investors at a higher price to help recoup costs. The land the Y will sit on will only increase in value as well. Should the Y ever fail, the city can a) lease it to someone else at a much higher rate or b) sell it at a profit.

    5. It was noted that should a sought-after "we're still negotiating", arrangement for the Y to manage the facility, not work out, the duties will then fall to the Parks Department.

    We already own a public pool that stays very busy but is limited to seasonal use. The pool, quite frankly, is one of the main reasons I would buy a membership or pay fees. It's anecdotal, but others have told me the same. Mr. LaRocca also noted that the "water features" are the biggest draw at the Y's current facility. Also the pool(s) will be included in Y membership if the Y runs the pool. City residents will pay a fee.

    I, too, think it would be better if the Y ran the natatorium because of their more developed programming. I see no reason to believe, though, that the city couldn't do it if necessary based on their decades of experience at Camille Wright.

    6. But, is it just me, or has everyone been adamantly debating the financial "crisis" this city is in the middle of, under warnings that we may have to "shut down city services" if we don't borrow money to keep things going?

    I would argue that it's less of a crisis and more of a temporary set back, based largely on paying back a loan a year too late. The warnings of shutting down city services weren't predicated on the sewer loan, but rather on whether or not the City Council would do its duty and pass any budget. Simply put, if the council won't appropriate the money, the administration can't write checks to employees.

    You and I may disagree about whether or not the sewer loan should've been passed or where other money should or shouldn't be spent, but the most frustrating part for me was the abdication of responsibility on the part of certain Council Members. The Council had the Garry Plan in front of them for six weeks prior to the vote and, though some of them were steadfast in their refusal to pass the budget as delivered, not a single one of them came forward with a workable alternative or even constructive suggestions for an alternative.

    7. I just think the public deserves some answers. Too much is still unknown and not enough information has gotten to the general public. What about us "little guys"?

    We agree that the city could and should do a better job of explaining all this. It's worth noting, though, that nearly all this information, sans my opinions of course, has been published in the Tribune at one time or another over the last couple of years.

    I was able to find most of it on the Internet, in my opinion the best tool possible ever developed for us "little guys".

    If we can't afford to fix city problems even in years during which we aren't handcuffed by the state, how are we going to save our way out of trouble? As another commenter mentioned, trying to find a way to generate more revenue without raising taxes seems reasonable. In fact, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that taxes will be raised if we don't find other revenue streams. If you have any ideas on how better to do that, I'm listening.

    We can discuss the integrity comments if you wish. I just used this comment to focus on project info.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 11:54 PM, June 04, 2005  

  • Geez bluegill, you really have a propensity to take apart everyone else's comments line by line.
    I'm actually getting complaints that the comments are getting too long.
    Please, in the future, instead of going thru the entire dialogue from the other commenter and re-interpreting or correcting it, try to keep your comments more concise.
    If you have additional or different information to add to the mix, please do so, but refrain from the "lessons".

    By Blogger East Ender, at 3:41 AM, June 05, 2005  

  • Learned today, witha a bit of research, that the first 2 (two) $1 million installments from Caesars are promised to the YMCA as well.
    Also, the Redevelopment Commission floated a bond in 2003 towards the environmental clean-up that is being paid now by EDIT funds.
    EDIT is also paying the Parking Garage costs of $615K per year.
    Where is the Economic Director in all this who's being paid a $36K salary out of $25K approved by the council?
    We need a calculator.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 4:07 AM, June 05, 2005  

  • Does anyone know if Caesar's has escrowed the $20 million they have pledged, or is the promise to pay this amount just a "gentleman's agreement"?

    East ender, does your research mean that we do not, at this point, have $1 million from Caesar's to use for cleanup and property acquisition as bluegill indicated?

    By Blogger New Alb Annie, at 6:53 AM, June 05, 2005  

  • East Ender, don't take this the wrong way, as I am just a semi-neutral observer here, but Bluegill just gave you and everyone else essentially all of the information they need about Scribner Place, something people have been asking for on here for days, and you thank him by saying he should keep it more concise and stop the lessons???

    I'm begining to think that some people on here don't want to know the facts, for then they won't have a reason to complain.

    Again, as Bluegill reiterated, all of this info is relatively easy to find via Internet. The city can and should make this available in an easy-to-read form online, but that is no excuse not to get the facts. You asked, Bluegill delivered, you get angry. I don't get it.

    By Blogger Brandon W. Smith, at 8:58 AM, June 05, 2005  

  • Sorry if this double posts, but something got away from me a few minutes ago.

    I intend to repost the preceding dialogue on NA Confidential as proof that (a) such an exchange can actually occur, and (b) even when the questions are answered, sometimes that's simply not enough.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 10:21 AM, June 05, 2005  

  • Bluegill's post was very well written, but I disagree that he "essentially gave us all the information". Only points 1 and 2 of his post list fact rather than opinion, and Laura has differing info on the money situation in item 1.

    Reread Bluegill's post again and see if items 3 thru 7 are fact or merely his well-stated opinion.

    I think he stated his position and feelings well, giving reasons for such, and that is what this forum is for. But a well-educated viewpoint should not be perceived as a listing of facts if indeed it is not.

    By Blogger New Alb Annie, at 5:08 AM, June 06, 2005  

  • Annie - thanks for sending this comment to NAC.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 7:03 AM, June 06, 2005  

  • We are all interested in getting the facts. And, although I was admittedly harsh on bluegill that day, I was trying to get across that the comment was just too long.
    Instead of re-writing my previous comments he/she could have simply offered information they had available. Rather, it was done in a manner intended to "take-apart" what I had said.
    Why?

    By Blogger East Ender, at 3:58 AM, June 08, 2005  

  • You said a lot and I was trying to address your concerns point by point as I explained in the opening to my comment.

    As long as it's relevant, I don't think length of comment should be a measurement of worth. If we are, in fact, going to discuss complex issues, it will be necessary to explain one's reasoning.

    It's the lack of explanation or justification that makes the value of a lot of what's posted here questionable, to say the least.

    I might also ask why you seem to favor deleting or limiting writing when people complain. Making efforts to appease a certain audience at the expense of others' ability to communicate is the direct opposite of free speech.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 2:46 PM, June 08, 2005  

  • Once again, Bluegill makes the relevant point.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 6:38 PM, June 08, 2005  

  • Don't assume it's that easy. I have recieved other complaints, with suggestions on what I should do about it, but thus far I am holding onto hopes of useful discourse prevailing.
    I truly intend to provide free speech. What I will NOT provide is a place for people to SLAM one another. That includes "taking apart" someone else's opinions.
    There is a divide in this city regarding certain issues. Accept it. Don't try to belittle it.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 7:44 PM, June 08, 2005  

  • I do accept it. I disagreed with you openly and respectfully.

    Responding to people's opinions and assertions point by point is useful discourse. There's nothing belittling about it.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 8:12 PM, June 08, 2005  

  • Evidently is is belittling when it conflicts with preconceived notions.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 8:29 PM, June 08, 2005  

  • Laura,

    I just read the posts on the top thread on your blog and then read this thread. After reading your comment about not providing a place for people to slam each other, which you wrote before a significant amount of the posts on the other thread were published, I am hopeful that you will thoroughly read the other thread and think about the tone in those posts.

    There is far more slamming, name calling, and threatening in those posts than in this thread--much of it coming from people posting anonymously. This thread actually provided one of the best discussions that I've seen on this blog to date.

    Also, I have often heard in suggestions for good communication that one of the most basic things you can do to improve communication is to restate what the person you are talking with has said. This assures that person that you paid attention to what he or she said and it serves as a check to see if you interpreted that person's comments as he or she intended them.

    By Blogger R. Mutt, at 12:44 AM, June 09, 2005  

  • Mutt, that's because Laura openly advocates, and in fact celebrates, a double standard in her
    "policies" here.

    Anyone who posts anonymous or via pseudonym is assumed to be an oppressed citizen unable to be accountable for his or her words owing to this oppression, and thus to be lauded and pampered.

    Conversely, anyone who posts openly alongside his or her true identity has a hidden agenda, or insists on asking inconvenient questions of the little people, providing answers that the little people aren't interested in considering, is too long-winded, or too rude, or probably just too talented, and so he or she must be rebuked, censored and mocked.

    75% of the venom comes from the anonymous posters, and 75% of the night stick comes down on the ones with identities and the accompanying personal integrity to stand alongside their opinions.

    Then, amazingly, Laura can't understand why topics keep veering off thread.

    Well, we've all tried to explain it to you: That's what anonymity does. If anonymous posters wanted to be part of a meaningful dialogue, where topics are discussed by reasonable people, then they wouldn't be anonymous.

    And that is why I have compared anonymity to vandalism, and done so for no other reason or hidden agenda than my comparison is perfectly valid.

    Thus, a standard of unaccountability has been erected and is maintained by capricious whim, all under the guise of "free speech."

    Good comments, Mutt.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 8:49 AM, June 09, 2005  

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