The James Street Plaza is planning to have a $2.4 million facelift and a name change to Legacy Park, and it may all come to fruition by the end of next year, if they get funding by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filtered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
Ludington's DDA currently has 10% of that money in its coffers and is hoping for approval of over $2.1 million from the MEDC when it submits its application by April 1st after having a public hearing on the application for funds at their regularly scheduled meeting on February 10, 2020. On other social media the City has shown their schematic drawings of what the project should look like if the funding is received, we have the diagrams in better detail here and a link to the actual MEDC Grant application. The first is an overhead view:
The second is a skewed bird's-eye-view from different angles:
The third is from a more normal perspective as you approach or move within the 'park':
The application also has a line item budget of the overall projected costs, some more within reason than others:
As the City of Ludington and other sites that have shared the artist's renderings from a distance have asked for impressions and comments, we do too. It would be super if the public could actually share their impressions and comments on what to do with this piece of the downtown before city hall spent many thousands of tax and TIF dollars on a plan that will never be changed despite better ideas coming forth. The West End Project's ultimate failure, ultimate legacy, if you will, is that local common sense and homegrown ideas were never part of the final product.
The Government takes our money then dangles it in front of local yokel officials and they in turn start drooling and try to make a case and excuse for the existence of their jobs. They say we need the money and if we don't get it someone else will. Just realize that it's our money which is being taken by force in form of taxes. How much you get back is judged by how much you squirm, beg and plead. "Please, please we deserve it more than they do because we have a better way to waste it." So instead of keeping those dollars in the community in the first place we are groveling to get it back using highly paid leaches who do the paperwork for us. The truly big money we give to the Government never gets back to us, it goes to wasteful projects like bridges to nowhere . What could Ludington do if all that money stayed home. How many families would benefit from keeping the money they earn? This Legacy Park is only the bandage on one small wound on the surface of a corrupt bureaucracy. I get worried when people agree with the need for projects like the Legacy Park. Years ago the city functioned very well without any improvements to that area.
The City can be a cruel critter for you as a businessperson when you can offend just one 31 y.o. person and effectively offend the driving force behind four critical agencies (the COL, the DDA, the Lud/Scott. Chamber of Commerce and CVB) all of which can make it hard for you to succeed. I'll leave it to the reader to figure out the person I refer to.
Our business ecosystem is more fragile and non-diverse than it needs to be and that bucket of gold has a lot of better places to go than a downtown funk park on a street right-of-way.
Interesting thought, X. Aren't two of those entities (the CVB and the Chamber), really one anyway? Or do they have separate funding? But still, I get your point--one person operating four positions/entities. I mean, really, the votes in the City chambers are pretty weighted for any of those functions for downtown then, aren't they? Especially with at least two other business owners on the city council and one former business owner still serving on the DDA? That's like a majority already tipping the scales for downtown. Has this been handpicked for a long time? Little wonder the 90 percent of the city is generally neglected and over taxed and fees keep rising.
That line item budget sure looks crazy to me on price estimates: 1) an open (no walls even) pavillion with a restroom/storage bldg. is $800K? (Could build a mansion for this alone.) 2) site prep. $100K? 3) decorative concrete $155K? 4) pedestrial lights $108K? 5) old restroom removal $20K? 6) gas fireplace $50K? 7) design/engrg. $472K? 8) decorative arch $50K? This is about $1.8 Million total, and that's ridiculous imho, esp. for such scant services and an open farm mkt..
I think your analysis is "spot on" Aquaman. There's enough fluff in those line items to give heavy "kickbacks". I'm reminded of one of my favorite movies, "Shawshank Redemption," about corrupt kickback schemes run through the prison warden who organized state prisoner-work contracts. It didnt end well for the corrupt warden or his deputy guard. I hope the people of Ludington take notice and swim through the cesspool to freedom.
Hyperinflated numbers are to be expected and are what both the city official in charge wants (Heather Tykoski) and the engineer (Prein & Newhof). The proof is already out there:
1) Five years ago, engineer Dusty Christiansen had the same concept for Legacy Park, his numbers added up to $781K (itemization in link). The inflation rate over that period is a straight 8%, pushing that estimate to about $850K in 2020 dollars.
2) Last summer, Dusty submitted a bid to update the costs of the project, his bid for the re-estimation was one-sixth of what Matt Lewandoski of P&N submitted for his. P&N was chosen nevertheless.
3) At around the same time last summer, Heather's TIF Plan suggests that $2.5 million will be needed for Legacy Park construction, despite the earlier estimate of $781K .
3) Instead of an $850K project, P&N has submitted a project estimate that is over three times the original estimate, not 8% greater, but over 200% greater.
4) The DDA has a front row seat to this wanton lack of fiscal discipline and doesn't say a damn thing other than "Great job, Heather."