Tuesday, June 02, 2009

BREAKING ALERT: Building Expansion for Metro Action Up for Public Hearing TONIGHT

The Mayor's Capital Improvement Plan is up for public hearing at 6:30 tonight. I did not know it had implications for Salemtown until 11:00 this morning. In fact, the Salemtown neighborhood did not know until about that time.

The implications (as communicated by CM Erica Gilmore) involve Karl Dean's intention to expand a Head Start kitchen:
As a prefatory comment, the Capital Improvements Budget (CIB) is simply a planning document, and does not in and of itself appropriate any funds. That being said, the CIB does include a new project for a $2,155,000 "New Head Start Kitchen", but does not specify the location. The funding source would be proposed general obligation bonds. The funding for this project is included as part of the Mayor's capital spending plan, which is the subject matter of Resolution No. RS2009-746. Both the CIB and the Mayor's capital spending plan are scheduled for final reading next Tuesday. The only opportunity for the public to speak regarding this project would be tonight's public hearing on the CIB.
Contrast the point above that the plan does not specify a location with a portion of Metro Action executive Cythnia Croom's letter from a week ago that clearly indicates that the new kitchen would benefit the MAC facility in Salemtown:
We were scheduled to move [Downtown] last August and the date was changed at that time to March of this year. Six months ago we learned that not only would we not be moving but that the designated location had been given to another department. At this point only our new kitchen facility has been placed in the budget for approval by Council. If this passes and is built, we believe we will see some relief to the parking situation as well as to the delivery traffic as all of those functions will move to a new location.
It does not take a long, stark line to connect the dots between the Mayor's typical noncommittal plans and the MAC Director's slip of inside information. In my opinion you can put the facility expansion in the Salemtown column, which will increase chances that MAC will be our congesting and callous neighbor for a good long time with the building of the kitchen.

And yet, no one from the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods bothered to tell us anything about the plans or get any feedback from those who are affected daily by unexpanded MAC operations. CM Gilmore did not seem to know anything about the Mayor's plan herself; her answers came from an e-mail from someone else that she forwarded to me.

I've spent the better part of my afternoon trying to see if I could get a quorum of Salemtown Neighbors together to write a quick statement to be read in public hearing today. I believe the bylaws are against a shoot-from-the-hip response, so it is up to those of us who have the luxury of making time in busy schedules and who can find last-minute babysitters for the kids to show up tonight and ask the council to walk slowly on the Mayor's Plan until we can be better informed about what it means for Salemtown.

We should have never been put in this position. Someone at some level of Metro government should have been more transparent about the Mayor's plans for Metro Action and for the Salemtown neighborhood.

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