The cold hard truth about the RR relocation project
Yesterday at the informational meeting there was an update on the RR relocation project. And while the switching yard will move outside of town (that is why we are getting ten acres of land) it was confirmed by planning staff that rail traffic will remain ‘almost’ the same.
I guess when the environmental study was done, BNSF explained that while the longer trains will not be switching cars for smaller deliveries downtown anymore with Eastern and Ellis, that those deliveries will still have to be made Downtown. Planning described it as ‘Smaller trains, but more frequent traffic’.
I went to the city council meeting last night, and during public input I expressed my disappointment in how this project has really changed from its original intent, which was to close the switching yard downtown AND reduce rail traffic. In fact, it could get worse with more frequent train traffic.
Not sure where the train went off the tracks with this project (no pun intended) but it seems the feet dragging and delay after Huether took office may have affected the final result. It was no secret that Huether was cock blocking the project so talk of an Events Center downtown could be quelled. The ten acres would have made a perfect spot for a parking lot for a downtown EC. In fact many still burning from the sting of that whole fiasco have argued that is all that property is good for, besides a public park. As I expressed last night, you won’t be able to build residential, and retail may be questionable also. Besides the noise of the more frequent trains running along the development land, the close proximity to the river could flood the Southern edge of the development. There has been talk about making the area a ‘quiet zone’ which requires crossbars on the street, but as I have understood Federal law on that, there will still have to be some kind of (audio) warning system in place. And even if the whistles are NOT blowing the rattle and clank of trains is loud enough.
Of course all of my whining really is coming to late. Our media really failed pointing out the reality of this project, the only journalist willing to say anything in agreement with me is Johnathan Ellis, and he gets chided for it.
This project is a HUGE FAIL for Federal Tax payers, a HUGE FAIL for downtown commuters and soon it will become a HUGE FAIL for local tax payers once we will be all standing around holding the bag for a piece of property we paid $27 million for that at most, probably will sell for around $4-5 million, AFTER we clean it up.
This is prime example of how pathetic government can really be with our money.
• I found this picture on the Googles of Hattie Phillips home that used to sit on the top of Terrace Park until the city goons tore it down. As I understand it is the ONLY known existing photo of the residence. Hattie’s husband, Dr. Phillips founded Sioux Falls with RF Pettigrew.
A spate of recent outbursts and contentious exchanges has prompted the leader of the Oklahoma City School Board to consider eliminating public participation at meetings, The Oklahoman has learned.
Board Chairwoman Lynne Hardin said Thursday she also is considering whether to eliminate board member comment and plans to meet with the panel next month to discuss both options.
“To be squabbling over things that don’t add to the meeting, it’s not an effective use of our time,” she said.
The board’s next regular meeting is June 27. Hardin said she will consider whether to suspend both comment periods for that meeting, typically the longest of the year.
“If there’s ever a time not to get rid of public comment it’s right now because of what’s happened with charters, with (former Superintendent Rob) Neu,” said parent John Prough, a regular at board meetings. “This is a time where attendance is up and community involvement is up. They’re involved, and they want their voices heard.”
• The Sioux Falls city council is considering giving Forward Sioux Falls $400K (Item #56) for workforce development. Sometimes I think these programs are so dismal, it may be more effective just to give a group of people who are under employed the money instead.
I will leave you with a cool video from 1894.
According to Edison film historian C. Musser, this film and others shot on the same day (see also Sioux ghost dance) featured Native American Indian dancers from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and constitutes the American Indian’s first appearance before a motion picture camera.
United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 
Copyright: no reg.
Performers: Last Horse, Parts His Hair, Hair Coat.
Camera, William Heise.
Filmed September 24, 1894, in Edison’s Black Maria studio.
Sources used: Copyright catalog, motion pictures, 1894-1912; Musser, C. Edison motion pictures 1890-1900, 1997, p. 126.
While there has been a lot of talk about what kind of development that is being done on the old rail yard, there has been very little talk about how rail traffic will proceed once the project is turned over to developers.
We know 3 things for certain;
• Two tracks will remain in the same place DT next to the BNSF building that will also remain. A fence will be built between the line and property that will be developed.
• All the old staging area will not be used anymore (that’s the new development land).
• Two siding tracks are being built out of town.
What we don’t know is how much traffic will remain DT, will it be more or less, or will it get spread around over to Cliff Avenue? I think within a year the city and BNSF need to supply the citizens of Sioux Falls a ‘rail plan’ DT and just what traffic will look like and projected volumes.
A developer recently told me ‘I was wrong’ when it came to the rail traffic DT increasing after the rail yard closes. So prove me wrong, call up your BFF, Mayor Mike, and ask him to present a rail traffic plan to those who live and work DT. If the rail traffic becomes minimal, than it will truly be exciting.
Here we go, seems no one in city government is smart enough to know what to do with 10 acres of undeveloped land downtown, even though developers and the city have been successfully developing projects downtown for over 100 years now;
“The City is hiring a consultant to work with us to ensure the redevelopment of this land is done in the best way possible,” says Mike Cooper, Director of Planning and Building Services. “Most cities never have this type of opportunity—to reshape the heart of their downtown—so we want to make sure we get it right.”
I’ve said the best way to develop the land would be to let free enterprise shape it. Once BNSF hands over the keys to the property in 2017, we drive down to ACE hardware and pick up a couple of FOR SALE signs and stick them in the ground.
Why should the taxpayers be on the hook for even more expenditures cleaning up the site, and coming up with proposals. Wasn’t the $27 million of Federal tax dollars enough? Especially since the tracks and traffic are really going NO WHERE. What kind of grand development ideas is the consultant going to have? You can’t build residential because the trains will still be rolling through, maybe even more often.
This sounds like another back door scam so that certain developers get their hands on the land by shaping the RFP’s in advance to fit their already conceived ideas. I say put it for sale, let the adjacent property owners have first dibs, and if they decline open it up to other developers. We aren’t building a resort in the Cayman Islands, we are taking a brown field, scraping the top layer off and making it available for someone to build on. This isn’t rocket science and certainly not worth the expense of a consultant.
I still maintain that since we did nothing to limit the traffic of trains downtown by moving forward on this project, we have accomplished nothing but blowing $27 million dollars as BNSF walks away with a gigantic smile on their face. You’re welcome Mr. Buffet.
We’ve all been there — stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for the cars to pass. But imagine waiting at a crossing for a stopped train, for hours.
That’s what neighbors in a development north of I-90 off Kiwanis say is happening to them.
Neighbors say it’s happened several times; a train will be stopped at the railroad crossing for several minutes, and at times for more than an hour.
The latest stopped train was just Thursday night. Traffic was backed up in both directions for about 45 minutes.
In the past few years, Parsons says the BNSF Railway trains are stopping more frequently and for longer periods of time.
We are going to see this all over town once the rail yard closes Downtown. While we blew $27 million of Federal Tax Dollars so we could have 10 measly acres of development, we are really not solving the problem. Two of the Four tracks will remain, so the train traffic will continue, and you are going to see a lot of shuffling around.
The city’s railroad property deal has been completed at a cost of $27 million to the American taxpayer, which equates to $69 per square foot. It’s not too hard to determine who received the best part of this deal and why Congress eliminated earmark legislation.
Tax incentive financing may have been needed to jump start downtown, but it is probably no longer needed. The footprint of those entities, who enjoy all of the city services but pay no taxes, continues to expand at the expense of the taxpayer.
In the event that we cannot receive a fair market value for the property, or if we cannot build without tax incentives, the best use for the property might be a park. At least that would provide some type of benefit to the general public.
I have a better idea, we rescind on the whole deal.
Cameraman Bruce was busy during the past week trying to put the HandiCam in the right places and it opened up more questions as usual. So our cameraman went up to the City Council Public input to ask some more questions. Actually why don’t more media persons go up there and ask questions? Hmmmm….
SIRE is always on the top of Bruce’s list. As users of SIRE have been finding out, it does not work. Got that? We have been promised so many things and still months after the server broke somewhere in SIREland without a backup, we’re still dead in the water. After the month long effort to stop us from downloading the video for our reports, they finally broke SIRE. Now they can’t fix it, even a little bit because someone forgot to save a backup of the original working software code. If the administration had not been pressuring staff to block our efforts they could have been doing backups? Call us crazy….
Our chief marketing office sent out a press release based on a Forbes magazine piece letting all of know Sioux Falls was a wasteland before April 2010. We in Sioux Falls are being ruled by a strongman CEO, kind of like 1920’s Italy. It reminded him to tell all in attendance, Mussolini also made the trains run on time but what good came of it.
Q: What’s the structure of the Sioux Falls government?
Huether: We have a “strong mayor” form of government. I am basically the C.E.O. or the president of a large company, and that company is the City of Sioux Falls. We have roughly 1,200 city employees and 12 department heads, and a substantial budget. We’re responsible of running the day-to-day activities of a city with 170,000 people, and a metropolitan area with about 250,000.
The City Council operates under a Home Rule Charter and needs to define its place in city government. The Council is the legislative and policy making body of the city of Sioux Falls. The administration is allowed to do what the Charter and the Council will let it do. Sioux Falls became a strong mayor form of government when the Council let mayors roll over them without a fight.
The Sioux Falls city government and Council are under a gag order issued by Fiddle Faddle. The administration wishes it could be permanent? So let’s discuss the reason why. The siding on the EC. The public is being locked out and MJ Dalsin are being locked in a settlement agreement no one will ever see. The agreement does what? Protect the not so innocent? It appears we will never know who is at fault, how much it cost now, who will pay to fix the mess later and MJ Dalsin is being made the scapegoat? The City Attorney’s huff and puff and bluff session from last Wednesday just proves it. We have been waiting for the paperwork to be filed so we can see what grounds the fight is over. It reminds us of the 3 Little Pigs fairy tale but in this case. it’s the rusty EC being blown down.
Sunday’s Argus Leader Events Center editorial http://www.argusleader.com/story/opin… opened up a great deal of room for discussion about the city’s chief marketing officer and the way the city is run. Thank you Argus Leader editorial board. Now let’s have the discussion.
With a crisp, hot and messy $27 million dollar check in the clutches of the Railroad, they have already started on rail yard staging ground part II, except it is not on the edges of town, but more centralized then ever. While it has been used for probably as long as the 8th street location, it is not as glamorous or as close to a Hilton, in fact it is only a few feet away from a refugee church, a mediocre sandwich shop, Avera’s parking ramp and about two blocks from where I write this blog. New drainage and RR ties are going in. As we all suspected, freeing up the 10 acres for a parking lot downtown will only transfer the rail traffic to other parts of downtown (that no one cares about or has to see). Rail traffic will probably increase (next to a major hospital and main north/south traffic route).
The relocation project has accomplished NOTHING! All it has done is create more headaches for people when dealing with train traffic and bilked $27 million from federal taxpayers. If the mayor thinks this is one of his greatest accomplishments, he must be working in quality assurance for the Sioux Santee tribe growing facility.
I really think it is because he was approaching the stage . . .
Cameraman Bruce was anointed media by the city of Sioux Falls on August 31, 2015 Sioux Falls Rail Yard Porkfest. Do you know why we are enjoying this? We’ll explain.
At several city pressers during the last year the Mayor has made a public point of being belligerent toward our cameraman Bruce. He likes to ask questions the mayor doesn’t like asked. You know, the kind of questions you would ask if you had the chance. The Mayor shouted him down at Spellerberg Pool. The Mayor gaveled him at a City Council meeting. We won’t talk about the special attention the Mayor gave him back in April (saved for another time). Oh and how about the last rail yard announcement in city hall when the mayor made a special point of excluding Bruce from being a questioner?
There are more, but today we celebrate the acknowledgement of our Southdacola.com cameraman Bruce as city of Sioux Falls official media. At least for the day… Ya gotta start somewhere, I guess.
Heather Hitterdal, communications specialist for the city of Sioux Falls, said Friday that Mayor Mike Huether sent formal invitations to Obama and Buffett, but neither is able to attend because of prior commitments.
As many of you may not know, we have to go back into the way-back machine on this project to explain my fat belly laughter I got from this supposed invitation. First off, this project was initiated by Mayor Munson (who is out of town and will not be in attendance today, I am told). At the time, I liked the idea, we would have been moving most of the tracks out of downtown (isn’t this the real reason we should be supporting the project?) Instead, we are handing over $27 million of pork to the RR. Getting polluted land that we may be able to sell for $2-3 million when it is all said and done, and MORE train traffic in other parts of downtown, including just a few blocks from my house next to Avera where there is another switching/staging yard that will still remain with two tracks still running parallel to the 10 acres we purchased. In other words, for those of us who live, work, and travel downtown, we may be experiencing more headaches just so we can free up 10 acres for a parking lot.
Besides the fact this is an obvious boondoggle for the Railroads, this project has morphed into many different monsters over the course it took. There was a big push to move the project along during the debate over the Events Center location. See, these 10 acres would have made a perfect spot for an Events Center parking lot, and with the contamination, it is probably all it is good for anyway. The idea was simple, build the EC next to Cherapa, move the RR project forward and use the land for parking. We would not have had to deal with selling the land or worried about potential cleanup. The group that was behind Build it Downtown were so adamant about their idea for parking, rumor has it, one of the members was able to arrange a very brief meeting with Warren Buffet in hopes it would move the project along a little faster. The city of Omaha was able to garner such a meeting with Mr. Buffet when they wanted to move some tracks, and Warren said, get-R-done. I’m not sure who was all invited, but I do know that Buffet agreed to the meeting (that never happened) because one of the main players that needed to be at this meeting declined to attend. We will let you speculate who that may be.
Like I said, I know very little about the details, and maybe this is all folklore and such, but if it isn’t, it sure makes the mayor’s invitation ironically funny.
Visually Interesting and amazingly deafening
Speaking of boondoggles, let’s talk siding, you know that stuff clinging to the Events Center for dear life.
For the record, I KNOW NOTHING. I have heard about 4 versions of what is being done, and to tell you the truth, not sure what to think of any of them, so I will keep those conclusions to myself.
The reason I mention the siding (in another ironic move today by the mayor) while everyone will be celebrating the big $27 million dollar pork sandwich to the Railroads today, today is, as I understand, the year anniversary of the city taking over occupancy of the Events Center (or maybe it is tomorrow?). In other words, the hammer on the EC siding mediation needs to come down this week. Like I said, I have many opinions of what should happen (ideally be replaced and paid for by Mortenson) I am clear about one thing; whatever is decided, the public should be told in an open meeting, and the council should vote on a resolution to approve the decision (or not to). At the end of the day, it is really about transparency and the public deserves to know who is responsible for signing off on the siding for our $180 million dollar investment. We’ll see how the administration and Fiddle Faddle play their fiddles on this one.