Entries Tagged 'Railroads' ↓

Failures of the RR Redevelopment negotiations rear their head again

And here we go, throwing more Federal money at the project and it’s an EMERGENCY even though the trains have tooting their horns through SF for over 100 years!

While I don’t oppose creating quiet zones throughout the city (even though we know this is probably for DTSF exclusively) it is pretty obvious we have to do this because we failed to remove the RR tracks from downtown during the negotiations. While it will make DTSF safer with the crossbars, the only noise it eliminates is the sirens from the trains, you will continue to hear them barrel down the track and cause traffic interruptions.

I have NO DOUBT the Feds will probably reimburse the state, but you have to admit since we didn’t successfully remove the tracks from this area to begin with, we are just playing a game of whack a mole and this is the latest.

So far the developer in this area has received millions in improvements to the River Greenway, a significant discount on the land, multiple TIFs (to build condos) and now another $5 million to create quiet zones next to those condos.

Here’s a concept DON’T BUILD CONDOS AND APARTMENTS NEXT TO A RAILROAD TRACK, or better yet work with our Washington delegates to get the tracks torn out. Nope, let’s just keep throwing tax dollars at small bandaids that doesn’t fix the bigger problem TRAINS RUMBLING THROUGH DOWNTOWN FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON!

Sioux Falls Districting Commission ask about the expansion of Central District

I’m really not going to take sides, (FF 42:00) but some of the members of the board brought up some good points about expanding the Central District. Jeff Schmidt, who basically has been drawing these maps for years and getting the rubberstamps from the commission really did quite the Mexican Hat Dance. I do think though the Commission is going to push on this once the actual census numbers come out (late August) and I agree that Central District should encompass most of the Central part of Sioux Falls. In the 29 years I have lived in Sioux Falls I have only lived out of the Central District a few times and it truly is the best part of our city, once we can get rid of the trains.

Speaking of the trains, City Hall moles have been telling me there is a push by the administration and downtown developers to move the trains out of Downtown! Bravo! While I totally support this you have to keep some things in mind;

• You should really involve the public so they help put the pressure on the Railroads and Feds. Trying to secretly negotiate with the RR’s will get the same result as the RR Redevelopment project . . .

• This should have been negotiated to begin with when the last mayor gave $26 million to the RR for $2 million in dirty land that the Federal Taxpayers probably owned anyway, but he failed, one of the biggest failures in negotiating in the history of the city, but what do expect from a low life credit card peddler?

• Which brings us to the most important part, this is Federal Easement land which means Thune, Rounds and Dusty will have to get involved, as well as the transportation secretary Pete and possibly even Congress itself, or even a signature from Sleepy Joe. Moving RR tracks is kind of like pulling King Arthur’s sword from the stone. I wish them luck, but I have a feeling I will be sleeping in my basement for years to come.

Cherapa II developer meets the city half way

As I have been hearing, the developer of Cherapa II (a partnership between Pendar & Howe Properties) offered the city $7 a square foot, the city wanted about $15 a square foot and they settled on $10 a square foot. Strangely enough the developer’s appraiser said it was worth $7 and the city’s appraiser said it was worth $15 a square foot. What a spread?!

I’m okay with this. As we know we paid way too much for this property to begin with. The ‘extra’ amount was for a switching yard out of town. What has happened is that the RR remained only a few feet from the departed property running tracks right along side it. They are still switching and storing cars less then a half a mile from the property just North of Avera and along the river by Nelson Park. In my opinion we accomplished very little with the $27 million which we had to add millions more for another viaduct under 26th street which will only allow even MORE traffic to the North in the Avera and downtown area.

That aside, it is good to see someone will take advantage of the property and I believe it’s spokesperson, Jeff S. when he says he will finish the project. Where I found this testimony a little comical is when he said that he won’t be making much money from it. I would agree with him that on it’s face, in the short term him and his partners won’t be making much except for mortgage payments, but in the long term, this property will have a big payoff. He knows it too especially when he says he is thinking of his ‘Kids and Grandkids’ future. Councilor Neitzert also went into full ass-kiss mode defending Jeff and his contribution to the city (like he was a charity) and that developers are getting beat up to much about the kind of money they are making.

Whaaaaaaa!

Let’s face it, we can’t turn back the clock, because if we could, we would have tried to eliminate most of the downtown train traffic to JUST necessary deliveries and NO switching and NO storing of cars. But Mr. ‘Get things done’ saw $27 million in the federal taxpayer’s piggy bank that he was just itching to hand over to Warren Buffet instead of actually accomplishing something.

I wish Cherapa II luck, but I have a feeling besides the $27 million we paid for this pile of dirt and the over $30 million we are paying for the 26th street overpass, we will be paying for this badly executed plan for decades in tax rebate handouts, land deals and TIFs. It’s unfortunate that the citizens can’t sue it’s elected officials for making these kind of hazardous decisions, because if we could, we would be getting massive rebates.

The RR Redevelopment project WILL go down in history as one of the WORST negotiated projects in our city!

City of Sioux Falls should be able to force Eastern-Ellis RR to cleanup tracks

For several years the Pettigrew Heights and All Saints Neighborhoods have been volunteering their time to clean up the tracks owned by Eastern-Ellis RR that run directly through their neighborhoods. While the RR does provide a dump car and some employees, volunteers do most of the work. They walk through very tall grass that they won’t mow to pick up all kinds of junk including hazardous materials and needles.

This is something neighborhood associations should NOT have to be responsible for. Having BBQs, community gardens, neighborhood watch meetings, tree planting events, etc. are great examples of the associations getting together to better their neighborhoods. Cleaning up hazardous waste for an inept RR company SHOULD NOT be their job.

I have heard for several years that the city has been unsuccessful in getting them to clean up their property.

They claim it is a Federal issue because the RR’s are regulated by the Feds and are on Federal easement land. I have often felt this was a line of bull and a city should have local control over code enforcement issues, especially when it comes to cleaning up property and mowing.

I checked with Dusty Johnson to see ‘who’ is responsible for enforcement. His staff quickly researched the issue within a week and had this response;

I had Andrew Rasmussen dig into this a little bit and here’s what he found out:

• In conversations with both the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the SD Department of Transportation (SDDOT), it was made clear the jurisdiction lies with the City of Sioux Falls.

• Both the FRA and SDDOT explained they are unable to enforce a local code or ordinance, particularly when it involves a private company.

In other words, the City’s Code Enforcement office ‘CAN’ enforce that Eastern Ellis cleanup their own mess.

I would like to thank Dusty and his staff for the quick response. 

UPDATE: The Railroad Redevelopment deal was the worst negotiation in the history of our city

UPDATE: Listen to interview HERE.

Former Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut is at it again with his recent ‘media’ tour;

“The thing that I believe that was probably the biggest win for the city during the eight years I was so honored to serve, involved finally inking the deal with Burlington Northern (to move the railroad switchyard from 8th Street).

As I have stated in the past, this was a horribly negotiated deal. We didn’t get a majority of the trains to move out of downtown, we paid to much for the land (that the Feds probably owned to begin with) and we have yet to cut a deal with anyone. One deal fell through and another developer is offering HALF of appraised value.

This is a habit with Bowlcut that he just cannot seem to break. When something actually is a very bad deal, he says it’s the greatest thing ever. I always say, to say you are being TRUTHFUL is different than actually being TRUTHFUL.

Just sell the land and get it over with

Here we go, the city has a ‘new plan’ on how to ‘get rid ‘of’ the RR Redevelopment land;

Available properties will be listed on the city’s website, and interested parties will need to file an application and submit other items including site plans and building renderings.

Planning and Development Services will then review submissions on their qualifications and willingness to follow property requirements listed for specific properties.

Purchase and development agreements will then be negotiated, and the City Council will be informed of the applicant and their concept.

We already paid to much for this dirty land and never put a plan in place to rid DTSF of significant rail traffic. As far as I am concerned it was a failure before the ink even dried. At this point I’m not sure why the city has to know all the details of a plan, doesn’t seem much different then an RFP process – though the city council will know more. I think the city should just put the land up for sale to the highest bidder, and as long as they are following zoning and building regulations, why does the city need to know specifics? Let a developer go through the normal channels they do with any project they are building on land they own, and NO TIFs or tax rebates. I think the sooner taxpayers are off the hook the better.

Urine laced snowballs derail Black Iron Project

It’s not often I get to write headlines like that, and NO Adam White from the Sioux Falls Headliner didn’t help me on that one. It’s all true;

She said her husband went to a neighbor’s yard and urinated on a snowman. Later, after more yelling and as she left to drive her friend home, she said he kicked over the snowman and threw urine snowballs at her car.

While I have known about the big ‘D’ for awhile, like many things that go on behind the scenes, none of my business, but it seems the dirty laundry is out now. While I feel bad because I have known both Erika and Dave for a very long time and both of them have been very generous and kind to me over the years. They both have enormous personalities.

It’s also too bad the Black Iron project isn’t moving forward. Dave had let me in almost 2 years ago he was planning a project for the area. Hopefully something can come of it besides another square apartment building downtown by the Double ‘L’ Co.

I often tell friends I am thankful of three things 1) I don’t have children 2) I have never been married 3) I don’t have a lot of money. Three things that can force a man to throw urine laced snowballs.

Former SF City Councilor Howes shares my frustration

See, I’m not crazy folks. Former city councilor Andy Howes tweeted this morning about the stupidity of the trains crossing Cliff Avenue at the worst possible time. But as I have been told, you can’t do nuttin’ to stop the trains.

Was the RR Relocation project really the biggest accomplishment of the last mayor?

As we have been seeing, there have been some kinks in process. The only prospect to bid on the property so far is having issues with the quartzite and may either pull out all together or drastically change the project.

I have NO information on either.

But recently it has come to light that Bucktooth & Bowlcut may have killed it all together by asking for impossible demands from the Railroad. Of course, as I am finding out, the RR does whatever they want to.

The project was pretty much dead until some other big shots intervened and all the demands were dropped.

Maybe B & B getting the project totally killed would not have been so bad after all? Nothing really has changed for DTSF residents. Still tons of train traffic and noise and questionable storage of cars by the river and parks.

I still maintain that the RR Relocation project was one of the worst negotiated projects in the history of our city.

Trains in the Hood – Photos by Chuck Luden

I saw this the other day by my house in the NEW switching and storage yard by my house. I was going to snap some photos, but Chuck beat me to it;

Good morning,

Here’s a couple recent photos taken near your place.

It shows military tracked cranes.

In my love of trains, seeing military equipment on rail cars is an added bonus.

I refer this area south of 14th Street as the south rail yard.

Don’t know what BNSF calls it.

I suspect this area will see more activity after the downtown yard removal.

Yeah, you are not kidding. (click to enlarge)