Sunday, May 10, 2015

Governmental Meddling

It's sorta been fun to witness the city fathers/mothers, mayor and Lexington Herald-Leader share a contretemps with the instigators of Centrepointe. The paper even made it an above-the-fold front-page spoof in the 09 May issue. One might get the idea that the world's existence hangs upon what happens to Centrepointe, though perhaps 90% of Lexingtonians couldn't care less about the future of the block-size, 35-feet-deep hole encased in concrete and prepared for most anything to be built there-inside and thereupon.

The grand plans for the block were engaged at exactly the wrong time, just as the ongoing recession began back in 2008-09, from which the country is still attempting to extricate itself, never mind the numbers put up by the administration indicating recovery. The actual unemployment rate is still at 12%, with more than nine million people still out of work.

Lost in all the furor is the pertinent fact that the government doesn't own the Centrepointe property. It can make deals—real or imagined—such as the one in December regarding “no work done in 60 days,” but it can't force the owners to do anything but pay taxes on the property; or, the Commission can attempt an “eminent domain” takeover, as happened regarding the infamous Kelo Affair of 2005, in which the city of New London, Conn., took a number of properties by this method so that a private company could “develop” the land at great profit. In an unbelievable decision, the Supreme Court upheld the government. That site stands undeveloped to this day, the property and business taxes not even a memory.

The developers claim they lost a potential client upon completion of the C-pointe enterprise as a result of the city's demand that the hole be filled (with dirt?) account violation of the “60-day-non-work” agreement, as if that would actually happen, though the city threatened to fill the hole itself. Meddling by the government, which has been operative since the buildings of no distinction on the block were demolished and the project deep-sixed account financial catastrophes, has been constant. The mayor wants to rearrange adjacent Vine Street, let Town Branch bubble-up from under the street, and institute some sort of canal and park...also not going to happen.

In the midst of all this, the paper wants the one-way streets north of Main made two-way despite a consulting firm, at a fee of $490,000, advising absolutely against two-way streets south of Main and indicating that the north side might be two-way without too much hassle, something that any observer can easily see would be so ill-advised as to be laughable, just as laughable as the Commission almost closing Vine at Broadway a few years ago. Imagine the kind of gridlock that would cause.

If nothing happens to Centrepointe in the next five years...so what? Downtown Lexington is a business area mostly, with specific kinds of adjuncts such as entertainment venues and specialty stores that are not impacted by the big hole. Most citizens avoid downtown as much as they can not least because of parking problems and the absence of necessary retail outlets such as the ones sprinkled all over the city with their own parking lots and no lines for entry and exit. Think Kroger or Walmart or Lowes to get the picture.

The elitists have also decided that $38 million (wishful thinking...more like $75 million) should be spent on restoring the Courthouse. Tax dollars should not be so misused. The building is a wreck. Tearing it down would allow prime space for whatever the city solons think ought to be there. But if it must fill in Centrepointe, perhaps it could just move the old dilapidated courthouse into the hole...bound to be cheaper than digging up a few farms for dirt.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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