Friday, March 30, 2007

The Hotel Bentley Follies

First of all, the Bentley is an invaluable part of our local history and in my opinion needs to be a monument to our history, not a grave marker to our folly. With the impetus to "Save the Bentley", let us realize several observations that should guide our actions as citizens.
(1) Bob Dean LLC purchased the Bentley for 5 million in 1998 - The current sale price of 12.5 million appears to be exorbitant in light of the fact that maintenance was lacking and a city water main burst and flooded the basement causing extensive damage as well as property values have not appreciated to that extent in our area. I do not recall a bidding war between prospective buyers either.
(2) The Hotel Bentley ability to book rooms was reliant on the Riverfront Convention Center for convention bookings that were anticipated and never materialized and are not present today. Hence, downtown development must be more solid before there is a revenue base for the hotel.
(3) The city's penchant for using your tax dollars for questionable real estate development is well documented for those that care to remember or research the facts.
(4) Doesn't Bob Dean deserve consideration for "cooperative endeavors" as much as Cyntrenics and wouldn't it be a lesser debt load for the city since he already owns the property needing only assistance with garnering business and renovation, not the additional revenue needed for acquisition?
I am sure there are more observations, but these get us started on a discussion.
The current deal stinks and the city needs to run from it like a three week old can of bad tuna.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Where is the fire?

If anyone thinks that they see a pattern on this blog, they may be correct if they have guessed that we are opening discussions on every department in the city of Alexandria. In the spirit of self-analysis, I will admit that I am off-base on some things, but I am going to throw a ball fairly often or I would be a lazy pitcher. I am looking for you to call 'em when they are bad and throw your two cents in. No offense intended and none taken.
Now to the subject at hand. I had visited a fire station a couple of years ago and discovered a very sad, but interesting circumstance. After some small talk, I was shown a pumper truck with a hole in the tank that was not allowed to be repaired for budgetary reasons. So, you say, big deal, just hook up to the hydrant. Great advice except that the adapter (est. cost $120.00) to connect the supply hose was kept on the ladder truck and, by God, the city was NOT going to buy another one for the pumper.
The firemen on duty were fairly satisfied with their pay and scheduled raises as their union has been fairly good negotiators at the state level and taken mandatory pay raises out of the hands of local officials (which was wise). To me, the Fire Department appears to be well staffed, trained and equipped. I form this judgement because I do not hear anything to the contrary. I will admit this is a faulty way of making a judgement because that is what I thought whenever the story about the adapter was relayed to me. I was also reminded that failure to perform as intended leads to loss of life in their business. Any observations?

What is the plan Stan? Do we have one?

I waited with bated breath as the city announce that there was a study commissioned to study future growth in our fair city. It was talked about in the news now and then and appeared to take quite a while to compile, so I am expecting much information with maps and statistics and a PLAN. That was a few years ago and I have a copy that I have read and is gathering dust in one of my file cabinets. Alexandria 2010 (the title of the study) was much ado about what a lot of us already know, like population and the highways that cross here and what kind of industry we have here. In all earnest, the study was a fair analysis of our city at that point in time - nothing more.
For $400,000.00 I would expect a thorough analysis of our city, plus a plan. Like a more sensible layout for the main arteries that we use, or what industries would best fit our population skill set, or what would suit the blighted and barren areas within the corporate limits.
The only plan that folks in charge seem to have these days is how to study separating the public from their tax dollars at 200 and 400 thousand a whack. OK, enough whining because a lot of us already know the score and I am now obligated to offer a solution.
Maybe some space in the newly acquired utilities building could be dedicated for a war room complete the three basic items for planning as follows; (1) a big map (2) a big conference table (3) a coffee pot. Just add some folks , look at the map, have some coffee, and come up with a plan. Does anyone think we could do this for less than $400,000.00. I have a conference table to donate, a map shouldn't cost too much from the RAPC (which is actually designated as our city planning body - see the charter), I am sure we could scrounge a coffee pot, and I would bet we could get enough folks with diverse talent and interests to provide input. Any takers?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Power to the People

Does anyone have much knowledge about our power plant and distribution system? I personally believe that we have a much underutilized asset that some in power would love to sell for scrap - it has already been suggested a few years ago. It is a dual fuel ( natural gas and number 2 fuel oil) so it is flexible. I have recently often wondered how efficient it would be if we could have gotten our hands on some of that cheap #2 that Hugo Chavez was trying to give away back in the winter?

GAEDA love 'em

My concern with GAEDA since its inception was; 1. it took legislation sponsored by Rick Farrar to be able to create such an entity. 2. The board operates in a manner insulated by the city council from the voters. 3. It has the power to fee (tax) without direct voter approval.
In a recent Town Talk article, it was noted that plans for the area around city park were being held confidential. What kind of crap is that? Or is it a glimpse of more to come? Help me fill in the blanks please.