Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Zooillogical" - Part 5

Today's JS reports that the park board is worried over flaws in Peoria (Glen Oak Zoo) Africa! exhibit. I quote the article, "Board member unanimously approved $63,915.00 for River City Construction to haul away excess dirt for the new Africa! exhibit at the Peoria Zoo--and they weren't too happy about it."

"It's hurting both us and the contractor. Nobody is winning on this. It's not a good deal. But we have to do it", said Superintendent of Planning, Rebecca Fredrickson.

I have some questions which I have posed to the writer of the JS article, Terry Bibo, such as where is this dirt being hauled to? As a reporter on the project, she says she does not know.A landfill? As a conservationist and an environmentalist, I certainly hope not.

What happened to all the beautiful trees that were cut down to make room for the zoo expansion? Did they go in landfill? Ms. Bibo says the trunks are being used to build the zoo. I find it ironic that Park Superintendent Bonnie Noble made a comment during a board meeting when the zoo expansion was being presented and when asked by a board member for a copy of the proposal, she answered that by saving paper "she was saving trees". She also indicated some of the board members wouldn't understand all the complex terms in the proposal anyway.

The taxpaying public who help fund this expansion knows little about what is happening such how much of the $32 million planned expansion is going to be open to the public and when? What will be the admission fees? Where is the parking lot? How are the proposed entrances to the zoo (the PlayHouse would be located by the entrance to the new Peoria Zoo, JS, 2/5/04) being constructed or reconstructed and who is paying for this? The city councilpeople I talked to say they are not aware of any changes in entrances that would cost the city money.

STS, an engineering firm, said they provided the engineering and design services to the PPD for the initial $19 million zoo expansion that is part of an overall proposed $125 million expansion, stated in an advertisement in IB last month.

Proposed $125 million dollar expansion? Is this $125 million flying under the cover of "transparency" or did everybody know about this other than me?

A few month ago a park official made statements that indicated the park is "flush" with money. Yet the $32 million dollar zoo was to open in 2008, park headquarters would by now be in the remodeled old IDOT building by 2007 and that the Children's Playhouse would open in 2007. (Journal Star, 2/5/04).

All indications indicate the park is not "flush" with money and will need much more from the taxpayers, local, state or federal; its all taxpayer money. And need it by next year or sooner. Of, course, they could always float new bonds. Principle, interest and the bond funds borrowed will need to be re-paid by somebody.

Any factual comments on this site clarifying the situation at the PPD will be appreciated.


Merle Widmer said...

I know the company that got the bid but don't blame them; they are not in the non-profit business, I understand will haul away approximately 200 7 ton or 100 14 ton tandem, truckloads of dirt. This dirt on the market sells for about $12 a ton..

One park board person said they were not aware that someone could make a double profit on the deal.

I emailed the JS reporter, Terry Bibo, who attended the board meeting at which this $63,000 expenditure was approved to ask where the dirt went.

She said she didn't know.

Go figure.

Merle Widmer said...

I also witnessed other contractors hauling the dirt away for no charge. Why should they pay the contractor that was awarded the no-bid contract when fill is worth approximately $12 a ton?