Entries Tagged 'Railroads' ↓

The RR relocation project, a political football


I hear the train a comin’

I gave a brief history lesson last night (with props, FF: 5:50) to the mayor and city council about the RR relocation project. Had to chuckle when the mayor was telling ME where to get information on the project. Oh, Mike, I am well aware what has been going on.

Want a permanent “quiet zone” – VOTE councilor Michelle ‘The Scolder’ Erpenbach out of office


More ‘strange’ campaign materials by Erpenbach. Even if she is suggesting the RR development area will be considered a ‘quiet’ development, she fails to mention that the area will still be surrounded by RR tracks, the landing path airspace for the airport, and when those two things are not rattling the dishes in the kitchen cabinet (I should know, I live about 5 blocks South of the area) there is the pleasant Avera chopper flying over. So once again, thanks for baffling us Michelle with your made up ‘issues’.

Someone asked me the other day what has been Michelle’s biggest weakness as councilor, and I said, “That’s easy, she rarely responds to constituents when they call on her.”

Hey, peeps, Michelle knows who butters her bread, and it ain’t the lowly whiners of the Central District (snark).

The tallest building in SD? The first 3 floors will be full of . . .

IMAGE: KDLT – Jeff Scherschligt, Managing Partner of Cherapa Place

I still shake my head and wonder how DT development helps me, or adds to my bottom line? We continue to be no different then Washington DC, we allow big business and development to take our tax dollars for THEIR benefit. Not ours.

Still wondering what constructing the tallest building in DTSF would accomplish? For me? A taxpaying citizen that contributes to this community. Bragging rights?

You want to develop on some dirty old RR tracks? Great. Buy it yourself, don’t allow taxpayers to be the broker.

RR Relocation Public Meeting tonight at 5:30 PM

This is a major public meeting at the Convention Center on the Railroad Relocation Project. This will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the project.
The presentation starts at 5:30.
Not sure why the SF MSM failed to inform the public of this meeting involving a project that has gone on for 12 years and involves a 35 million dollar federal earmark? They must only have 99 eyes open on this one ;)

With the draft Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Evaluation document out for public review, Public works will be holding the final public meeting to present the preferred alternative to the public.

The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, 1101 North West Avenue. The meeting will begin with a 30-minute presentation. A general question and answer session will be held following the presentation. Representatives from City, State, and Federal staff will be available to answer questions.

Is the RR Relocation project in it’s final stages?

Well I wouldn’t hold your breath, it still has to go thru the 45 day public input time period;

There are $35 million in Federal funds remaining to finish the relocation, which will free up about ten acres of the rail yard site for new downtown development. If the public input phase goes as expected, the next step is to figure out how much to pay Burlington Northern for the land.

$35 million for 10 acres of polluted land? Sounds like a deal. Of course Cotter said during the press conference that the land was ‘lightly’ contaminated. You mean like when you ask for light seasoning on your steak? He also said(?) this;

“There have been so many good bones that have already been revitalized in our downtown. And this is just another big and critical part to keep that momentum going,” Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter said.

Not sure if that is a typo or if he really said that:)

He was also asked at the press conference what the land was worth and if it has already been appraised. He (claimed) that it could not be appraised until after the public input phase.

This is how I look at it kids, someone is going to make a lot of money off of this piece of property, and it’s going to cost taxpayer’s a bundle in the end. While I don’t like the tracks DT, and what that area currently looks like, I am skeptical of the ‘deal’ that is being cooked up. Expect another butt load of TIF’s to be handed out so someone can build more apartment buildings DT while you and me get stuck with the bill.

A ‘Mysterious’ Land Swap

Before everyone calls the Whambulance and starts crying that I am am cooking up new city government conspiracy, STOP. I am posting about Item #6 on the city council agenda out of curiosity (DOC: TheGreatLandSwap ).

This is the first time on an agenda I have seen such a ‘swap’.

1) Why does Schoeneman own land that our bike trail is on to begin with?

2) Why not just sell the land to the city? Why swap it?

3) Why would they ‘give/swap’ land that is adjacent to the RR relocation project that hasn’t been completed yet?

Just questions. No conspiracies . . . yet.

The mayor plans to sign the MOU for the RR yard purchase Friday

Okay, the memorandum of understanding is not a final binding purchase agreement, but wouldn’t it be nice if the city’s MOST TRANSPARENT politician would show the public the document before signing it?

The Argus Leader has not yet received a copy of the draft memorandum, but Cotter said Wednesday he would check with the project team about sending one this week.

So are you going to send this out before or after the mayor signs it? Funny how we had to hold off the snowgate election for another year because the council needed to ‘gather more information’ but it seems when it comes to the purchase of the railyard, that information is buried in some dark chasm of Mark Cotter’s office.

Why does the city have to be the middleman on a land deal?

“I’m not going to be negative like that.” (actual quote at the press conference). Who wouldn’t be positive when you are spending other people’s money and hanging out with babes. (Image: KELO-TV screenshot)

Now that BNSF is NOT asking the Feds and SF to build it a switchyard, just to purchase the property – why should we get involved at all?

Seriously. If they want this land for development, then let developers purchase the land for development. Why is my money being used to clean up this property so developers can profit from it? Screw that, didn’t we learn anything from Munson’s mess called Phillips to the Falls? (which we still own because of the contamination).

Nearby, though, the city dealt with high levels of contamination to build Phillips to the Falls, and the city is paying almost $20,000 for a study of Falls Park West to figure out how to go about building there because of previous contamination from when it was used as a landfill.

If BNSF wants to sell the railyard for private development – fantastic! Sell it to private developers and keep my tax dollars out of it.


UPDATE: More transparency from city hall on the RR relocation project

Here we go again;

A reporter for the Argus Leader tried to attend a meeting Tuesday. BNSF representatives did not object, but Mark Cotter, the city’s public works director, asked the reporter to leave.

Yup, one of the most transparent city halls in history, but hey, when you compare yourself to the previous administration, it may be true.

Ellis did a fine (Part II) story about this today. I await Part II next Sunday(?) which hopefully talks about our current mayor’s role in this matter.

I also see the city council is moving forward with the texting ban. Unfortunate. It amazes me how little our city legislators know about the law.

What’s in a Legacy?: Guest Post, Andy Traub

The longer our Mayor is in office the more confused I am about his legacy. You can have a legacy of what you leave behind and a legacy of what you stole from the future. If I spend my kid’s college savings account then my legacy is what I took away from their future. Many observers thought that Huether’s legacy was going to be the events center but the longer he’s in office the more I think his legacy will be what he took from our future versus what he left behind.

The only pain that is real is the pain you feel. By paying for the events center with current taxes it appeared to many that Huether minimized the pain our city will feel in the future. He didn’t add a financial burden, but what did he take away? Here’s another way of looking at the Events Center. What could our city do with $115,000,000 over the next 20 years? What won’t we get because we have that debt to pay? We’ll never know.
We’re well on our way to losing $40,000,000 in federal money to move a switching yard. We’re losing money in two areas by not using this money. A new switching yard would draw businesses that want better access to trains as a way to move their product. Businesses would build near the new location and that economic impact would be even greater than the opening up of real estate downtown. By focusing his energy on growing our debt (the events center) he also missed the opportunity and the income from moving the switchyards. It’s a double-whammy.

So what will his legacy be? No one knows but when you focus on one thing instead of the whole, other parts suffer. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the events center isn’t a flop and I hope we don’t lose $40,000,000 in federal money. As it stands it looks like both of those things are going to happen. He’s fond of saying, “Make it a great day Sioux Falls.” Maybe he should focus less on making it a great day and more on making a great future. That’s what I’m worried about. Quite a legacy.