Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How far is too far to turn back?

The RDC's been quietly making the rounds, visiting your City Council representatives, Mayor Wharton, and others, to shore up support for the Beale Street Landing (BSL) project and convince the City to approve an $8.9 million budget increase. Their bottom-line argument for finishing BSL goes something like this:

"We've gone too far and spent too much to turn back now."

But that begs the question: How far, really, is "too far?"

One City Council person told me that he had been going along with this argument, assuming all along that we were "past the halfway mark." But now he says that it appears we may be less than a third of the way -- and that would change his thinking. Presumably, other Council persons might feel the same way.

Let's do some more math.

Our best guess is that BSL is now going to cost at least $37.6 million in total.

How much have we already spent? According to the RDC last May, about $11 million, with Phase II about "95% complete." (Click image at left.)

That means BSL as a whole would be about 30% complete (11 divided by 37.6 equals 0.2925), or less than a third, with $26.6 million remaining to be spent.

Phase III, the steelwork, would make a major difference, however. If we had gotten to the point of committing to that steelwork contract, itself worth about $17 million, the RDC could then argue that we had reached the 75% mark, rather than just 30% (11 plus 17, divided by 37.6 = 0.7447).

You can bet your bottom dollar that the RDC would like to make that 75% argument. Or even the earlier 68% argument (calculated before the price increase). Obviously, the RDC would like very much to get that contract signed.

That is why it is critically important for Mayor Wharton to establish whether or not the steelwork contract has actually been signed. Assuming it hasn't, he should order an immediate halt on the project so that the city can preserve all its options and can rationally decide whether and how to proceed.

To be continued...

1 comment:

David Simmons said...

It is high time to get this issue out of the back rooms and into the public light for taxpayers to access and voice their positions to their elected representatives.