Monday, August 16, 2010

Intermodal Update: 6th Public Hearing--TUESDAY Aug. 17th, 5-7:30pm at the Eastonian

Posted by: Noel Jones

Well, don't say you weren't asked on this one--read the Express Times' staff article covering tomorrow night's sixth public meeting to be held on the design for the proposed intermodal facility on Third Street, to include retail space, a high school hall of fame, and an outdoor plaza. You might also want to read Ed Sieger's earlier article on how the new design comes with an additional $5 million price tag.

This is your chance to see what's being planned and weigh in on what you would like to see incorporated (or not included) in the design. I attended one of the meetings earlier on, and felt the mayor was genuinely encouraging input from the residents in attendance, and directing the architects to incorporate resident suggestions. Now is the chance to go see how those suggestions have been manifested in the design.

And please post your comments here after you do. I might have family (including six kids ages 2-13) staying the night, in which case, I will have my hands full and not be able to make it, but if they decide to make it a short visit and not stay over, I will go to the meeting to see what has developed.

How is everybody feeling about this project? I know there were some initial concerns, i.e., wanting trees in the green space and wanting building materials to reflects that of surrounding buildings, so hopefully those have been incorporated into the design.  I haven't seen a recent version--did anyone make it to the last public meeting on this project? Please post your comments here...


Anonymous said...

I have been to several of the meetings and I am now genuinely supportive. I think the new design, or evolution of the design, is perfect for the city/ This area of the city is way to suburban and it is the entrance to our city. I am looking forward to everything about it and I believe that the sports hall of fame isn putting together the right plan.

It will also be a greatplace for people to get the bus. Much nicer accomadations, and easy parking.

The pricetag is rich but I believe the mayor when he says he will go after more grant money. Lets face it we will have a 350 car garage, a 45,000 s.f. building and a beautiful urban plaza. I love the facade and its richness but mostly I like the urban design.

noel jones said...

I will be interested to see if they have incorporated the "living walls" suggested by residents to provide visual and sound barriers for people sitting in the plaza, so that they don't have to see, smell, shout over the buses each time they pull into the facility (right along the plaza) and also to protect St. John's church and the apartments that will face the back of the building where the buses come out again...I also hope they added shade trees to the plaza area--people will only use the plaza if there is shade, otherwise they will feel like eggs in a frying pan in the middle of all that concrete on a hot setting up a table in the middle of a mall parking lot. It's all about the shade.

Another thing that residents brought up before was the bike-friendliness of the intermodal facility. It's good that we have slowly been getting more bike racks around town to encourage people to get exercise, waste less fuel and take up less parking, but to be a truly bike friendly city, we have to have more than bike trails and bike racks--we need clear cut bike lanes and for the city to enforce respect among drivers for people riding bikes. The intermodal facility should include bike racks and storage so that a person could conceivably ride a bike to the intermodal facility, lock up the bike and catch some other mode of transportation.

carinne said...

I am really curious about this high school hall of fame. I have no interest, but I do have an awareness of how much Easton loves their high school sports. Even so, I can’t imagine anyone besides the individuals, and families of the individuals who are featured in the hall of fame, checking this out. Is it featuring just Easton or surrounding areas? What would make people go more than once? I guess I will be at the meeting to find out but in the meantime please comment if you know.
What I think would be awesome for downtown is a movie theatre! Also bowling would be great. I remember downtown having this diversity in recreation when I was growing up. Now it seems like you can only park a car and eat in the evenings. Too bad.

noel jones said...

My sister-in-law arrived to stay the night with my niece and five nephews, so I wasn't able to make it tonight. If anyone out there was able to make it, please post your impressions here!

Were residents ideas from past meetings incorporated into the design?

David Caines said...

This is going to be completely off point, but I just read that a jury acquitted a local man of assault on Easton police officers and a handful of other charges, because he claimed "police Brutality"., the full story such as it is is in the Morning Call. I just wanted to post here that we (Jeanette and I) feel that this is complete non-sense. We've had to have the police over dozens of times since moving here to deal with area problems, and found them , polite, professional and if anything possibly a little too even handed. We felt it a good idea to let EPD and the officers involved know that in light of this outrage, they have our support and the support of the non-criminal elements of Easton. Such a blow to an up and coming, and community involved police force is utterly unwarranted, and poorly timed. And of course this newly freed criminal is also suing the city for $5 mil.
I can't even begin to understand what on earth the jury was thinking, but well...our support of the innocence of the officers involved is now being made public in such a way as we can. Here.
I'm a bit surprised that this wasn't a separate post on the blog considering how valuable community policing is , I think it's important to let the EPD know that we support their support of our community, and that at least some of us realize that this finding is non-sense.

Anonymous said...

I do know that the living walls are there as well as a waterfall wall in the plaza and lots of trees and shrubs and flowers. The living wall is also on the side near the church. Plus they are widening the sidewalk along the church to 5 feet.

As for the Sports HOF. It is not a local thing but National. It is to be owned and operated by the National High School Coaches Assoc. which is locatedf in Easton and headed up by the way by an individual who grew up in the WW on 12th street. His mother still lives there.

Fromn what I know it will have a national presence and is much a humanitarian museum as a sports HOF. Most of the inductees are inducted for what they accomplished after high school sports. Plus I learned that the actualk HOF is only on the second floor. The first floor is commercial and the third floor is offices. Only the seconf floor will actually be the HOF.

I love the amount of public input this project is receiving and glad to see the city handling this much better than the previous project.

We should all get behind and support this and the best part is that it will get rid of two suburban developments.

Anonymous said...

What's the cost or exposure for the taxpayer?

noel jones said...

David--thanks for posting--I haven't seen that article yet, but will go take a look when I have a chance. Please email me backchannel if you know of an issue you would like covered, so that we don't confuse the topical threads of each post--thanks.

Anon 10:55 - thanks for the update

Anon 11:19 - good question--I know that the price tag is $5mil more than the last estimate, but don't know if that will be covered by tax money.

Anonymous said...

cost to taxpayers? I beieve the mayor has repeatedly said that the cost to the taxpayers will be zero unlke the former project that would have taken 7 - 10 years before it broke even. Obviously the amount of state and federal money will make or break the project. But wow it looks great!

Anonymous said...

THanks for that information but it does not fully answer my question. My question really deals with exposure for the taxpayer. For ex. If the project is 10 million and there are grants for 5 million and there is a reliance on revenues for the other 5 million, then there is a five million exposure for taxpayer. On the other hand if there are going to be contributions or sales of rights, etc that cover the other five million then there is no exposure. Simply put, if there is a reliance on leases with private entities and on projected parking to produce revenues, then there is exposure for taxpayers. Leases are never an absolute guarantee. Many never run to term. Parking is a projection and not absolute. In this case is the term 10 years or 20 years? So my question is what is the exposure for the taxpayer?

noel jones said...

Anon 11:09 thanks for clarifying the question--if anyone knows, please post.

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto says:

Noel asked me to respond to the question about taxpayuer exposure. I have stated since the beginning that this project has to be at best revenue neutral and preferably the city would start to make money unklike the current garage or the defunct Riveralk project. The current garage lost $250,000 per year for the first 25 years anbd Riverwalk wasn't expected to be revenue-neutral for the first seven or so years.

To fully answer this question I will need a feww days -- specifically til Thursday. On Thursday I ferel we will be able to release a lot more about this project as we tie up a few loose ends.

The bottom is that the taxpayers will not be paying for this much-needed transportation center.

I will provide a full update report at that time.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mayor,

My question may need clarification.

I know it is not your intent to saddle taxpayers with additional costs.

My question deals with exposure. If the garage is to be paid with revenues supported by a twenty year or twenty five year or fifteen year lease from a private entity that will be a tenant in the garage, what is the exposure to the taxpayer. If this is the case, how is the taxpayer protected in the event the private entity defaults on the lease and does not make expected payments.
My concern over long term leases is being pushed by the current economic situation where many commercial tenants are leaving and defaulting on multi year obligations putting the property owner in peril for mortgage payments.

noel jones said...

Mayor Panto, thank you for posting and Anon, thanks for the great question, as this exchange educates the rest of us who may not be clear on the exposure issue.

Mayor Panto, we look forward to your next post and thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to provide a thorough answer for residents.

Anonymous said...

Well Mr. Mayor, it's Friday afternoon. You stated in a previous post that you'd have more information on Thursday.

My opinion is that a city should not become a landlord. As stated in previous posts if these tenants do not fulfill their leases or if the building is not fully occupied then there will be costs to the taxpayer.

I think this mayor is having delusions of grandeur if he seriously thinks a high school sports hall of fame will be able to sustain a steady stream of visitors for years. And this mysterious sports bar that will also occupy this project. Just who is it???