Saturday, March 28, 2009

Peoria Museum Vs. Civic Center

People like Jim Bateman are always trying to castigate people who opposed the Civic Center and compare them with the Citizens For Responsible Spending who have the FACTS to present about the Peoria Riverfront Museum. People like Bateman and Chappie Chapman, to name a few, are so far off in this comparison that they might as well be comparing hen eggs with rattlesnake eggs.

The Civic Center attracts Conventions, Exhibits, Bradley Basketball, basketball tournaments, Riverman Hockey, National shows attended by as many as 11,000 plus in one day and dozens of other events.

So what's to compare? Maybe that the museum people came up $51 million short of their goal? That we have a very nice 31,000 feet expandable museum now, 2nd largest between Chicago and St. Louis? Or that the museum plans shrunk from 110,000 sq. ft. to 83,000 sq. ft? And that costs rose over $11 million in less than 18 months while constructions costs were actually going down with construction people looking for work? And that you can't hold any events hosting any size close to 500 people at one time in the new museum. And that the museum planners could not include 5,000 sq. ft. of valuable artifacts, etc., in the new museum and will probably pay a tax collecting entity to store them. And additional costs to transfer them back and forth? And that parking went underground while ALL Civic Center parking is above ground which is what most people prefer and believe to be more safe.

Did I mention flooding and all the failed businesses on the riverfront including the 110,000 sq. ft. InPlay who offered lots of challenges to kids? Or the Gruen Gruen, a nationally recognized consulting firm out of Northbrook, Illinois who conducted a detailed study paid for by Heartland Partnership, that stated that the museum would not be "World Class" even at 100,000 sq. ft., that it would not attract but a handful of overnight visitors (55,000 by the guys in ivory towers and la-la land of academia) and that the area lacked residences, retail, and was pretty dead at night? As well as much of the time during the winter?

I could go on but what's the use. Bateman is the same guy that helped collect more than $160,000.00 (that I know of),of taxpayers money for Community Builders with very little to show for it after more than two years of struggle.

Peoria may be dull but now as dull as some think. It does not have big philanthropists or someone would have stepped forward and bridged the money gap and set up the $14,000,000 endowment that Doug Stewart, local banker and committee member said was needed. They have a "massive" 12% of that on hand.


And what's to compare? The the decision to expand the Civic Center looks a little doubtful right now and I haven't seen much advertising from the Peoria Chiefs with opening date just around the corner. Plus question marks like did the zoo raise the $5,000,000 Dave B. said recently that they needed in donations to complete the an entrance and parking and where are all the new softball fields promised by the PPD and promised almost yearly since 2002?

If these bodies are so flush with money, why hasn't it shown up? Like, why is the PPD planning to close some of the clay (that other communities would kill for) tennis courts?

And all while we may be in the greatest recession since the 30's and Obama saying this week that there will be more job loss yet to come.

Oh my, I believe all the questions I've been asking about where our some of our leadership (for a number of years) is trying to take us; I believe the answers are coming home to roost. My advice is to stay out from under these roosters.

Peoria as a "destination"? Maybe for these roosters. I'm sorry if I seem negative but you can't change facts by wishing these facts aren't facts. At least I'm not all in favor or "turning the lights out", just dim them a little so people can see through the smoke and are permitted the transparency they seek and are entitled to.

1 comment:

JP said...

I read Chappie's comments in the JS too and my reaction is the same as your's, Merle. There is no comparing the two projects. I supported the building of the Civic Center. Even sent in a comment to the JS signed 'Civic Minded' when the city was trying to decide whether or not to demolish the theater (Rialto?) on Jefferson. The Civic Center appealed to many segments within society while the Museum appeals to a much smaller segment, IMO.