Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Barbara Ware questions Lendermon about the Public Promenade

At the May 9, 2008 Operating Budget hearing, RDC's Benny Lendermon was asked by Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware regarding the status of the Public Promenade.

Click here to read more.Click here to listen to the 6-minute discussion (1.2 MB MP3). My transcription of that discussion follows below.
WARE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Lendermon, you said something that just kind of aroused my curiosity. You said that you are not involved in anything really with the Promenade. And I thought that the moving forward on the riverfront development, which included the Promenade, was something that Riverfront Development [Corp.] was taking the lead. So what has happened?

LENDERMON: We did. We took the lead on the plan. We were charged to do a master plan for the riverfront and we bought the Master Plan. And, then we also zeroed in on one little of it, based upon the Urban Land Institute's suggestion that this was really important, and we looked at the Promenade. We had this huge public input on what should happen with the Promenade. We brought that plan to the City Council in 2004, May of 2004 I think it was 2004, I'm not so sure of the exact day. 2004. And you approved it in, you know, a very interesting environment, okay. At that point, that was, RDC's challenge at that point was to to take, to us look at what we think ought to happen to that to that [inaudible], bring it to the City, and the City adopted, and at that point , the real issue was in implementing it. RDC can't deal with the legal issues. The legal issues are strictly a City administration process of...the City administration will want to resolve the legal issues that allows that plan that was approved to ever go forward. So, at such point that they do that, I'm sure we will be supportive with the facts that help their legal case just like any other person would do, but we aren't the one to pursue the legal, you know, we don't drive that train.

WARE: So, in other words we're at a legal stalemate on what happens on that plan? Okay, well, somebody else might have been aware of that. I wasn't. I just knew that we hadn't heard anything lately, and it was almost like let sleeping dogs lie. But at some point we need to get it off dead center, and decide to either you're gonna do or not do. I understand the legal issue with the Promenade. But if that is going to be an insurmountable factor, then what's Plan B? I mean do we just leave the riverfront as it is, and say that this is an issue that we can't resolve? Or do you work around it. I mean, and I think that it is in your lap to come back with something. If that's not gonna work, then what will work? We don't need to just leave it, well like it is.

LENDERMON: We are working, we're working with the University Law School. Within your CIP budget, which you'll see at some point, I think our hearing is on the 21st, there's a project in there that deals with improving the area behind the Law School, you know sort of making the back of that building, the front of that building in some sense green, putting up a pedestrian bridge across to Confederate Park and starting this connection here, this sort of a connection that will work under a multitude of environments. That's the beginning of something, whether it ends up being public or the plan that the Council adopted. So that's going forward I think the purpose is...until, I mean, the legal issue needs to be resolved, but it's um, the timing's probably not right to deal with that property anyway. So this is one reason why we're not pushing the City to so something one way or the other cause we think at this point it's probably okay to let it sit there then and let the Law School get put in there, let that drive the Confederate Park and improve that area, let the rest of downtown develop around there and all of a sudden you've got more impetus and more reasons to do something there one way or the other, if you will.

WARE: Okay, now what did you say about Confederate Park?

LENDERMON: Well, I'm getting off the subject, but there's a, in the Capital Improvements Projects there's a project that actually connects, it's improving behind the Law School, building a pedestrian bridge over to Confederate Park, connecting that green space with the Law School, thus tying that whole area together. We hope that whole waterfront's tied together. And it's being done to, because at this time the Law School's wanting to, they have been, I'm getting, I apologize, I'm getting off a little sidetracked here. There's a project which is heavily leveraged with State and private funds, requires some City dollars, to accomplish we think a lot of green space improvements. It doesn't really do much with Confederate Park, it pretty much, it includes a few little landscaping improvements. We don't change much of Confederate Park at all. It's primarily behind the law school.

WARE: Okay. Well I for one would like an update on where we stand on all of this. I don't know who is going to be responsible for bringing that information but I do want the riverfront developed in my lifetime.

LENDERMON: We do a lot...What I suggest, Councilman Ware, is that in the not too distant future that we have a committee meeting where we talk about what's, all the issues, all the things that Riverfront Development's moving forward with now. We'd give you basically an update on everything. That may be helpful.

WARE: Well, I appreciate it. Thank you.


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