Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Peoria Journal Star Says "Be Pragmatic"

It was recently announced that the near bankrupt federal government had issued a $10 million grant for development of the "Peoria Warehouse" District. The JSEB says today that "...Peoria with a history of over-hyping project after project should be mighty careful about repeating that history here, in the midst of the parade, sometimes we lose our pragmatism".

Webster's Dictionary defines paragmatism "a practical approach to problems and affairs". I consider myself a pragtimist; how dare the JSEB claim to be pragmatic??

JSEB, don't be too sure when you say that people who move down there to live might notice the smell. Many Peorians don't seem to mind the smells that emanate (other than ADM and others) from some of the "projects" foisted on a gullible Peoria populace in recent years. They never admit that this $10 million will be spent on "soft costs", consultants, designers, architects, engineers and yet more consultants, planners, peer engineers, more designers, all without one shovel of dirt being turned. An example is currently in progress where the Peoria Riverfront Museum Project spent, so far, over $14 million on all the above, plus trips, meals, travel expense, advertising, etc., without one shovel of dirt being turned until a couple of months ago. At that time, they turned dirt for an underground parking garage for the PRM and the CVC, mostly funded by Uncle Sam and Caterpillar.

Where will the money come to DEVELOP this project once the $10 million is gone? I suspect it will go on the shelves to join dozens of other plans now gathering dust for lack of more taxpayer dollars. Earmarks and stimulus grants may be history by 2014 and today's entrepreneurs won't budge unless they have guaranteed taxpayer support (Witness Bass Pro and GEM and the Marriott Hotel to name a few of the most prominent recipients or planned recipients of taxpayer largess).

The JSEB (Journal Star Editorial Board for new readers) finishes their column, "We want this project to succeed, but realistically, those behind the Warehouse District will need to figure out how to fit in with all that, and without counting on Uncle Sam."

Be realistic? Almost every single project of any size that has been started in Peoria in the past 10 years have been started and partially completed with a startlingly share of taxpayer dollars.

And we complain why our governments are broke or heading in that direction!!

In the meantime what ever happened to the Heartland Community Foundation 2004-5 Strategic plan? It talks about the "Innovative Economy of Central Illinois". Are they to be the receipients of this $10 million taxpayer grant?

Anyone doing their research surely realizes that these "innovators" can't seem to get off the ground without public taxpayer dollars as was recently highlighted by a "can't miss FireFly". Or have we already forgotten? Remember that the spearhead of this taxpayer financial boondoggle was our own "conservative" State Legislator Republican David Leitch.

And what happened to the highly touted Southern Gateway. And by the way, why has Alex been so silent? And GEM??

I have long ago concluded that most of the "leadership" in Peoria would rather take a little dunking (as opposed to going down with the Titanic) than admit they have been carried away by a lot of "blue sky" optimism.

1 comment:

Merle Widmer said...

According to recent census figures, Peoria County, which includes the City of Peoria, grew at the rate of around 200 new residents a year in the past decade. From approximately 181,000 to 183,000.

In the meantime, the number of new jobs created in Peoria hardly succeeded jobs that moved out or are in the process of moving out.

When Dave Ransurg was Mayor of Peoria, I asked him how many taxpayer dollars had been spent in the downtown area in the last few years. He said approximately $41 million. (I wrote a letter to the editor of the JS titles "Mis-spent money had better lay golden eggs". I found the some of the eggs recently but they weren't made of gold.

Since then the City has given the new museum location anywhere from $14 up, subsidizes the Gateway Center, the MidTown Plaza, lost Damons, RiverStation, Tillys and In-Play, changed streets, sewer systems, re-routed utilities, etc., granted million of dollars on re-doing the Downtown Public Library, a library the Library Committee and the City considered closing in the year 1999 or 2000, and still faces a massive expenditure on new sewers and other infrastructures.

No I'm not a pessimist but I surely am a pragmatist.