Council: Tempers Flare Over Transit Center

City Council approved an additional $3.8M in appropriations for the $6.7M (now $10.5M) transit center under development at the east end of the Downtown Mall, but just barely. On 3-2 vote, Kevin Lynch and Rob Schilling dissenting, Council voted to appropriate the additional state and federal funding to the project. Lynch and Schilling said that they were surprised by the overrun, and hadn’t been kept abreast of any need for the additional funds. Councilor Blake Caravati, always the diplomat, accused the two of “misleading the public,” “demagoguery,” and “factual ignorance.” John Yellig has the story in today’s Progress.

5 thoughts on “Council: Tempers Flare Over Transit Center”

  1. Without faulting anyone in this event, I can remember when a Project Manager was appointed for each project (at least that`s my experience) and that person was responsible to present a full and detailed briefing , anytime, anyhow and be prepared to explain, justify, etc, all significant milestone events and decisions, plus funds status. Seems to me that is universal policy in all walks of of these matters.I can`t believe the City has no such system and to follow-on , if it does, why interested people did not avail themselves of the Project Manager`s knowledge.

  2. I feel very free to fault many people on this project. Several years ago I attended a city-sponsored meeting about the proposed transit center/new ampitheatre. At that time the mall crossing issue came up (with 4th or 5th being a possible solution to replace 7th). The crossing was very much opposed by people using the mall and supported by business owners on the mall. A traffic study was proposed, but never done. No actual plans were made so now we are where we are with business owners organized in favor of opening up a new crossing and blah, blah, blah. The transit center isn’t placed where it would be useful according to studies done over the past decade, but we’ve got it because David Toscano wanted a legacy (his words). There’s something obnoxious about building stuff because there’s a grant available for it and there’s something fiscally unsound about building things when the last cost estimate was many years ago and there’s something sadly imprudent about plowing ahead with an idea just because it’s been around for a decade and we’re used to it. I can and do blame pretty much every council member for the past ten years for edging us forward to where we are now.

  3. Of course it is obvious my remarks were directed towards the art of management of a project, not the history of inception and justification of this particular project.

    The events of the council meeting were the basis for my remarks and I think it became obvious when Blake read what was easily recognized as a prepared statement and was written in anticipation of the events of the meeting. This to me seemed curious as the City Manager, who must also have been aware of the the “discussion to be” was unable to scrape together a sequence of events as regards the project when he knew a review of the project was a probability (which any project manager worth his salt could have furnished on short notice). I conclude he didn`t think it would be needed as Blake would defend it ( and the City Manager) or perhaps , in arrogance , ignored the need to offer an in-depth accounting- nor does it seem one will be forthcoming. In this regard, the dissenting councilors were sandbagged. To me, at this date, a comprehensive review of funding decsions was the crux of the matter, not a rehash of inception.

    If Toscano sees a bus station as his legacy he has, in my view, rather low expectations and goals.

  4. How do you know if you have to do something? Well, if you don’t do it, there will be negative consequences. What if there are no consequences? Then you don’t have to do it in the first place. What if someone says there will be consequences but there are no consequences? Then they can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Children discover this truism very early. Then they act out more and more until there is a consequence. In the case of the city manager, he doesn’t have to stay informed or on budget. He’s unlikely to be fired. In the case of City Council, if you break a campaign promise and still get re-elected, then you don’t have to keep your promises. Children are always surprised and shocked when there finally is a consequence. But they will thank you later.

  5. It takes a considerable naivety to be surprised by cost overruns in a municipal construction project. Most people would be surprised if such a project had come in ON or UNDER BUDGET.

    That said, I just think it’s peachy that Lynch and Schilling have finally found some common ground.

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