Entries Tagged 'Railroads' ↓

What do you know about ‘Reversion’ ?

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Some of my South DaCola foot soldiers have been digging around about Railroads and Federal easements. I guess since the 1800’s Railroads are considered a public utilities like electric transmission lines, and since they are, they don’t actually ‘own’ the land they are operating on, they have an easement from the Federal Government. That being said, when they remove the tracks from that easement land and are no longer using it, the land goes into reversion, in which the Federal Government gives the land to the adjacent property owners.
Like I said, just started digging into this a little, and don’t know all of the details, but if this is true, it means the land that BNSF is trying to sell to the city shouldn’t even be for sale, and some adjacent property owners are about to get a late Christmas gift.
What do you know?

 

The only thing missing from this Presser is an apple tree and sombrero

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There are times we send out our video machine to hopefully record something positive for our great city. This isn’t one of them. During the Mayor’s presser December 23, 2014 we learned nothing new and don’t dare ask for more than we are willing to tell you.

It reminded us of a Texas politician doing the side step. Now you see me now you don’t. We really don’t every get to see anything new but we do get an interesting demonstration of how to bust a move. When you are done, the movers feel like you need to bow your head and hide.

Instead of a run-off election, they should have had a dance-off.

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UPDATE: Choo! Choo!

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Trust me, I would cry if I could

The (non) Big announcement will be made today at 2 PM at City Hall about the RR Relocation. I don’t expect any fireworks.

UPDATE: The appraisals have been finished, and shared with BNSF and Santa FE Railroads, but cannot be shared with the public (due to some obscure Federal law). The mayor said they are in ‘beginning stages’ of negoitiating a purchase (yeah right).

The mayor refuses to answer questions about the appraisal AND doesn’t mention that the MOU ends on Dec 31 (which will pretty much force the process to start over).

In other words, as I predicted NOTHING has been accomplished, and NOTHING is being said about that failure to cut a deal with the Railroads. It is time for the city to cut ties with this deal, it’s a waste of tax dollars and city employee resources.

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UPDATE: What’s going on with the RR Relocation Project?

UPDATE: Well, I heard a few things from a reliable source tonight that I (we all) have suspected. Basically, BNSF is asking for an atrocious price for the land, I won’t say the amount, but let’s just say it is laughable.

You have to remember, this has been a switching yard for over 120 years, the amount of pollution on that plot of land is probably enormous, on top of the fact it will cost a lot to clean it up. I would compare it to buying a home with a bad roof and broken foundation, you would ask the seller to come down in price, way down.

The kicker though, and I am speculating here, is the first appraisal came in way, way, way lower then the asking price, and I hear the second one wasn’t much better.

Without saying too much I will put it in perspective. Let’s just say the appraisal isn’t matching up with the asking price, by a long shot.

This is probably why the negotiations are taking this long. It would be like you getting a $250 credit limit credit card with $190 dollars in fees on it when you receive it in the mail . . .

I have a feeling the FEDS are probably going to refuse to purchase the land for what BNSF is asking, or already have.

I know, I know, I have asked this question a couple (100) times over the past, I don’t know, 8 years? But the mayor mentioned at his Shut Up & Listen session last Saturday that it is still proceeding, and it has been one of the most challenging projects he has ever worked on (yeah, hoodwinking the Feds isn’t as easy as hoodwinking passive South Dakotans).

Now we have a local developer, and River Greenway welfare queen, Jeff ‘Government Handout’ Cherapa saying this;

Jeff Scherschlight, CEO of Howalt McDowell in Cherapa Place and managing partner of Cherapa, detailed the parameters of the potential changes.

“Basically, they’re going to leave the tracks that are furthest east will still exist,” Scherschlight said. “There’ll be two tracks, and everything from there coming west will be removed. And that is the railroad switchyard, which they’re going to relocate in smaller towns around Sioux Falls, and do their switching there, which is the big advantage that we gain this extra land downtown for downtown development.”

Scherschlight could see his building, Cherapa Place, expand to include a second building, should the current railway switch yard site become transformed into parking. Only two railroad tracks would remain, while the switchyard would be relocated away from downtown.

What I find interesting about this ‘edited’ story is that the original text that was posted last night on StormLand’s website has disappeared (I should have copied it) there was a mention in the original post that said “. . . an announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday” about the progress of the project.

UPDATE: It is in the video though if you listen closely. Wonder why the city didn’t want to do an on camera interview? And what does Jeff Cherapa know? If anything?

Little details and NO inked deal with Feds, but hey, we’re getting a kiosk!

There has been little to no talk about the Rail Relocation project over the past 6 months. I have even pulled the ear of a couple of local reporters to see if they have heard anything. Nope. There was a mention in the 2015 budget of a fence. But that is about it. Now comes a Kiosk for the project in the consent agenda today at the council meeting.

Rail Relocation/Railroad Interpretive Kiosk; Confluence $ 5,100

So what has been going on? Are the Feds ready to ink a deal with the city and the railroads? How much has it been appraised for? What are we paying for it? How much money are the Feds going to give us? It’s nice we are blowing tax dollars on a Kiosk for a project that hasn’t been inked yet with the Feds.

What is going on? Is there a Federal investigation going on? It certainly would not be uncommon for the Feds to audit the process before handing over $30 million dollars, in fact it would be expected of them to do so. So who would do this investigation? The IRS? The FBI? The months of silence on this project is eerie.

 

The RR relocation project, a political football

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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

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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.