Monday, January 11, 2010

The real truth about B.S. Landing

An open letter to members of the Memphis City Council:

The RDC will be asking for a $2 million to $9 million increase in its CIP (Capital Improvements) budget, to account for a loss of Federal funds and increases in steel costs for Beale Street Landing.

You should vote NAY and deny their request.

You should also ask Mayor Wharton to order a freeze on the RDC's projects, and obtain an independent audit, giving him the time and the facts he needs to re-evaluate our riverfront strategy and consider alternatives.

You will of course need a justification to cite with your NAY vote. Take your pick of any or all of the following:

1. In 2002, this project was supposed to be a feature enhancement to the restored Cobblestone Landing, at a cost of $10.4 million. Now it's a $37.6 million replacement for our historic landing. The City has more important priorities.

2. Its design has grown to more than twice the size envisioned in the Master Plan, extending deeply into and forcing the reconfiguration of Tom Lee Park.

3. When the land bridge was canceled in 2005, Beale Street Landing became unnecessary. We already had, and still have, Mud Island's riverboat landing. It could be spruced up at relatively small cost. (The RDC's website doesn't mention these alternatives.)

4. In any event, those big overnight riverboat cruises have since gone out of the business and dry-docked their boats. (The RDC's website doesn't mention that.)

5. The Memphis Queen Lines (daily cruise) operation doesn't need Beale Street Landing. All they need is for the City to properly restore and maintain the Cobblestone Landing -- something the RDC has deliberately avoided doing during the ten years since it has had responsibility. (The Memphis Queen Lines have had to maintain their small area at their own cost.)

6. The overblown and unneeded BSL project has sucked the funding and support away from our historic Cobblestones. For the latter project, RDC wants to get away with doing only half the job, or "cobbles under glass."

7. The overblown and unneeded BSL project is directly contrary to the recommendations in the Master Plan, which called for a full restoration of the Cobblestone Landing serving as a Union Avenue terminus. (The switch in plans wasn't pointed out to previous City Councils.)

8. When you discount the unneeded "boat dock to nowhere," the snack bar and a playground, what is left is just a huge and expensive example of urban art. (I'm not against art but frankly, that's a lot of money and real estate to expend on a piece of art.)

9. The RDC has never properly accounted for the ongoing operating costs of BSL, which is expected to be open 24/7. It's clearly a security risk. The police coverage alone would cost much more than the $100,000/year RDC officials casually estimated when asked about it at a CCC Design Review Board meeting, March 2008.

10. The RDC has never produced a business plan for Beale Street Landing, much less documented the claim they've been heard to make that it will "pay for itself in a year."

1 comment:

morktomindy said...

AC please address this ASAP...and reign in the RDC to be accountable, transparent and cut down/out the B.S.