Next question - where is the PPD going to get another $7 or more million to build the trail including a bridge over Knoxville and what about a bridge over heavily trafficked Pioneer Parkway, when they can't find $5 million to complete the parking lot and entrance to the expanded zoo? Nor the money to build the recreational ballparks promised to be built by 2003 on the 40 acre lot off Rt.91 and Fox Road? Nor the money to build the promised sports complex off Lake at Peoria Stadium? Nor the money to put in water, toilet facilities, electricity and picnic tables at this "playground" off Lake?
Here is an email I received today from David Pittman, who says the Kellar Trail is now a "success". David, I believe is President of Peoria Wilds:
"Effective immediately I am resigning as VP of the RTA /Friends of the RI Trail. Even though I helped start this group nearly 20 years ago I will not accept any assignments, or attend meetings, or represent this group any longer. I do this to protest the deliberate silence of the RTA leadership over the $140,000 compensation paid to Kellar Branch Corridor Corporation. The Kellar trail is now a success, but public money was spent without oversight and this group kept silent. It was accepted as the 'price' of getting the job done. this will be my last email to this group.
KBCC's main attorney asked our group to publicly keep quiet over 18 months ago, which we did, with my reluctant acceptance. Many of us heard the KBCC attorney claim to be motivated by his desire to help the community and his altruism. I am happy the Kellar is now a construction project instead of a political frustration. But for me, it is a bittersweet victory.
I feel that our group silence worked well for KBCC, allowing them to get $140,000 with NO PUBLIC scrutiny or audit or previous public agreement. Even though I asked our group leadership to raise these concerns in public, the email exchanges of the past weeks made it clear that I am a minority of one; don't ask, dont' rock the boat, and speak publicly only to praise the KBCC for its success. I am alone in my dismay and I cannot reconcile continuing in this group without violating my internal sense of right and wrong. As an officer of RTA /Friends of the RI Trail I felt obligated to keep silent, per the majority will of the leadership. Now, with the deed done, I can step away.
It was suggested to me that the KBCC attorney deserved compensation for his professional duties; but what about all the other professionals who have given to the Kellar rail to Trail cause without asking compensation? What about the hundreds of hours of our President George Burrier, also an attorney, or the $100,000 donation of O'Brien Steel, or the testimony to City Council of the Maloof realtors, or any of us for that matter?
Plus we were never told this KBCC attorney was a hired gun. Just the opposite, we were lead to believe this was a community service. The suggestion that KBCC deserves $$ and the rest of the group does not, presumes a business contract that never existed. We as taxpayers and activists were not allowed to see how the KBCC justifies $140,000 for their expenses. Why not $120,000, or $180,000? No one knows. KBCC gave the cities a bill for services rendered. But our elected representatives never signed a contract, never made a deal. I believe this is very wrong.
I know that five years from now no one will care how the Trail was built, or if this deception occured. It is very typical of how projects get done in our community, with last minute demands and back room deals. Peoria will have a Kellar trail, and the KBCC will have $140,000. Maybe they deserve every penny, who knows? I have chosen to keep silent for the sake of my friends and out of respect for their long, long struggle to make the Kellar into a trail. But I am ethically challenged beyond my limits and will step away from the tainted odor.
I truly respect the people I have worked with over the past 15 years and I know there is no deliberate deception here, only a burning desire to build the Kellar Trail. By keeping silent on this issue until after the final public votes have occurred, I have tried to adhere to my responsibility, as I understood it, as an officer in RTA. Thank you to everyone who tolerated my strong feelings over the years as we worked on developing the Kellar and other recreational trails throughout the region. It is a good cause and I hope to see many of you in other times and places."