LA018: Working over mall owner, and FasTracks lipstick on a pig

LA-w-ChrisAugust 24, 2008 Show

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Festival On Main

Longmont ExaminerColorado Plane Crash
Touches this Longmont Flying Family

Work With? Or Work Over Panattoni?Continue reading…

Press Release: FasTracks: Lipstick On A Pig


Anyone who’s read my stuff over the years knows I’m no great fan of State Senator Brandon Shaffer. I’ve disagreed with him on his voting record, specifically the games he tried to play with the Electoral College, and how he basically became Ken Gordon‘s extra vote. We need someone to represent Longmont and District 17, not a puppet who pretty much tows the party line, right down the line.

The following press release was sent directly to me from candidate Katie Witt who is challenging Brandon Shaffer for this seat. – Chris

Lipstick on a Pig: Fastracks in Boulder County in Peril

August 18, 2008: Longmont, CO – Katie Witt, Republican candidate for State Senate District 17, today announced her position regarding the growing controversy surrounding the RTD FasTracks project.

“The prospect of FasTracks getting to Longmont and eastern Boulder County, on budget and on schedule, now appears to be absolutely zero,” Witt stated. “What makes the situation outrageous is that Longmont citizens have been paying for this project—one that my opponent Brandon Shaffer campaigned for in 2004— with little to show for it to date. Where has Brandon been the last four years while RTD heads straight toward fiscal implosion: the answer I fear is, “he’s been asleep at the wheel.”

“While my support of the FasTracks concept remains strong, it’s clear that this is one public works project that has spun out of control. Elected leaders and administrators need to revisit and seriously re-think the viability of the original plan.

“I fear that the worst news is yet to come. When FasTracks reaches full build-out, the operational losses from this poorly conceived project will implode the fiscal foundations of RTD, with taxpayers left holding the bag. It is time to stop the denial about the extra-ordinary fiscal risks involved with “staying the course” through keeping with the current plan. It’s time to stop trying to put lipstick on a pig.

“Fastracks to Longmont, an extension of the North Metro line tied into the Highway 287 corridor, is essential. Because of the growth along the I-25 corridor and number of people working in Denver Metro area, a line to eastern Boulder County would have the greatest impact on our transportation problems.

“If we subtract the politicians from the equation, this is the plan that makes sense for Boulder County. It will do what it was designed to do: reduce cars on the road.

“Obviously, the FasTracks proposal was driven by political considerations, not good mass transit policy. That’s why the FasTracks project is in such deep trouble financially.

“I praise RTD board member Lee Kemp and Longmont’s mayor Roger Lange, who’ve been on top of this worsening situation. What we need now is a task force led by RTD to re-examine alternatives, and legislative hearings at the Capitol to ensure far greater accountability going forward. Our current state senator is asleep at the switch on this crucial project.

“We need strong leadership and clear thinking on this crucial economic development project. Eastern Boulder County needs a FasTracks designed to support job growth and a vibrant east-county economic development effort. We need to see if we can get FasTracks to Longmont and eastern Boulder County.”

LA015: FasTracks getting unpopular, backyard chickens, and police/fire unionization

LA-w-ChrisJuly 27, 2008 Show

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Last weeks show
Transition from Examiner to Blogger
http://longmontadvocate.blogspot.com Continue reading…

LA013: FasTracks, show recap, The Onion headlines, and Longmont flip-flopping

LA-w-ChrisJuly 13, 2008 Show

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LIVE SkypeCast Info – new date and time

“You’re Building What Where?” story about
Budget Home Center and FasTracks Continue reading…

You’re Building What Where?

There was a front page article in the Daily Times-Call on Sunday June 29, 2008 entitled ” Landowners in Limbo” which tells the story about land and business owners around the area where the FasTracks station is supposed to be built.

I watched with interest the June 3, 2008 Longmont City Council when they talked about this subject. When I saw the map on the screen, it sure looked like the station’s parking lot was located where Budget Home Center currently sits. If you were like me, as you watched this, you probably assumed that some deal had already been discussed and that the land owners were aware of this plan.

Apparently, according to this article, they weren’t.

At about the 55 minute mark of the June 3rd meeting video, you can see the concepts for this area. This information was in a council packet at the time of this meeting, but is no longer part of the PDF on the city’s site. The agenda itself can be found at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/agendas/2008/060308.htm

Councilman Brian Hansen did ask about the smaller property owners, to which the answer was that they could pool together and be part of the larger development, but ” they haven’t explored in any detail” this idea – and it sounds like they may not have shared this idea with the land owners either.

I’ve frequented Budget Home Center quite a bit over the years, and figured that the competition from Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware was just too much for them, and they might fade away for the purposes of this light rail station. According to Budget’s owner Butch Vernon, that is not the case. Besides not hearing anything from RTD, he’s hoping they will relocate his business or compensate him so he can relocate it himself.

Unfortunately, a spokesperson for RTD said they do use eminent domain and will resort to condemnation if no agreement can be made with the land owner. In other words, they’ll just take it if they want it.

Is that what the voters in Longmont really voted for? Light rail at any cost, regardless of the human and business debris it leaves behind? All you anti-big box store (like Home Depot) types who defend smaller local businesses (like Budget Home Center), where are you on this one? (I hear crickets, and hypocrites)

What is with this trend of trampling all over property owners rights in Longmont? Some examples: the attempt to take Emery Street to the detriment of surrounding property owners. The fiasco with Lifebridge and other property owners near Union Reservoir, stalling into oblivion plans to work their own property. George Marxmiller and the city’s virtual taking of some of his property and denial of release of his liability, making him risk everything. The property owners of the Twin Peaks Mall area, and the hoops they’re being required to jump through. And now this.

And who’s making all this noise and doing all this meddling? Little tyrants running around with probably little to not much property of their own, since they probably can’t afford to live in their own little nirvana to the southwest? So if they’re going to be miserable settling for Longmont, the rest of us have to share in their misery? The same types who want to mold Longmont into something other than what it is, and not something better. Some were even elected!

This is what you get when you just let bureaucrats, and their fawning citizen apologists, run roughshod unchecked and not held accountable. Not to worry, what are the odds of this happening to, or affecting, you? Probably higher than you think.

Mall-itics Pt. 5

Continuing the coverage of the Mall Redevelopment Meeting of June 16th, I had to comment on one of previous speakers comments and of course the council politics part of it. I didn’t identify myself or promote my blog/podcast, just speaking as a citizen in this unprepared speech.

I just wanted to address the point that he made, that can the citizens, can the community, can they handle this? Can they afford this? And this is what I want everybody to tell their councilmembers: The city and the community can’t afford not to do this. They can’t afford for the mall to be the way it is right now. They can’t afford for it to get worse. And in 2 or 3 years, when they ( Panattoni) still own it, and everybody starts screaming that this has become a nightmare, fiasco, boarded up facility, you can tell those councilmembers that aren’t attending these meetings..and if I’m not wrong these meetings have been on (different nights of the week). There’s been three meetings, one of those three non-voting people have come to one meeting ( Levison), two of them haven’t come to any ( McCoy & Hansen), so I don’t want to hear the excuse that they want to listen, they want to learn. No, they’re just flat out against it. This thing is bigger than downtown, it’s bigger than light rail ( FastTracks), it’s bigger than the Lifebridge development, it’s bigger than most anything else going on in this city. It’s important, so all of you need to tell all your councilmembers exactly how you feel.”

The next speaker chimed in, and this wasn’t mentioned at all in the Times-Call article, and I’m sure the speaker would like her councilman, Brian Hansen, to be aware of her comments, as she said he’s basically ignoring her. She said she voted for Brian Hansen and she lives near him, and that he has his own thinking, but doesn’t poll his district to see what they want, and that he won’t listen to her. After the meeting, someone else asked how in the world he got elected in the first place. Hey, I’m just repeating what I heard.

The group got a little hostile towards a member of the consulting group when he was showing a design similar to 29th St in Boulder. The question was asked ” aren’t we all in unanimous agreement this isn’t what we want? Why are you showing this to us?” At first I thought it was a little reverse psychology in play; get the crowd up in a lather about adamantly not wanting anything resembling what you’re pitching to them. Then slowly turn them your way as you show some nice concept drawings of what they do want, an updated indoor mall. But apparently I was giving this guy too much credit, this did not occur, and the long slide show of other developments around the country was anticlimactic.

I just didn’t get the feeling this portion added much to the discussion. I think what people want, and I heard this from people on the inside, is that people, including councilmembers, just want to see a plan of what WE might get HERE, not so much what others are doing. To this, Panattoni’s Will Damrath did show a concept overhead rendering of a theater and alterations to the current mall. But he also said whatever they show us now, could change tomorrow. As important as community involvement is, tenant needs and demands rule. Unfortunately, we have some citizens and members of council that think they can micromanage the design, architecture, and building of a mall. Talk about ” inexperienced” (see Pt.2).

The Times Call story received a big response, about 39 comments in 3 days. Most are in favor of doing something with the mall, and there was a scattering of apologists for the councilmembers who vote against anything to do with the mall. I’d like to know, if not this plan, then what is their plan for the mall area? Panattoni has been endlessly answering the same questions, but I haven’t heard the councilmembers against this answer this one. I get that they a) don’t think it was blighted, and b) they don’t want a public/private partnership with this corporation. So what’s your idea? And don’t bring up Downtown or FastTracks. Tell us your plan for this area. Got one?