Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What you may not know: Week of January 19

The Appleton Common Council will meet in regular session on Wednesday and one item we've discussed previously will likely dominate the conversation: We've received word that one member of council will ask the body to reconsider our vote from two weeks ago on a request to purchase land from the county to construct a proposed exhibition center downtown.

First, a quick note on how reconsideration works. Any member of the council who was absent from a council meeting or voted on the prevailing side of an item (voting no in this case) is allowed to request council take the item up again. That request requires a majority vote from the council before the item can be debated again.

With that said, I voted no on the exhibition center project two weeks ago and I intend to do so again if we take it up on Wednesday night. I've written about my concerns regarding this project in the past, but here is a quick list of my four reasons for voting no. They're ranked in order of importance:
  1. City ownership and the risks of this project becoming a general fund liability in part or in whole if any of a variety of things go wrong.
  2. The uncertain ownership situation of the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, the amount of leverage we would be giving to an unknown partner and the possibility that we will negotiate a lease but be forced to renegotiate and weaken it under pressure from a new partner.
  3. The fact that the projected impact of this project diminished significantly between the first and second feasibility study, the uncertain nature of industry trends and economic projections, and the significant possibility that the convention increase we're expecting will be overstated or negligible.
  4. The county's excessive asking price for the property, both in financial terms and as related to the parking concessions being requested.
Several of my colleagues and I have been under pretty heavy pressure to take this up again and change our minds. I'm not interested in doing so.

Finally, here are a pair of updates on the items I discussed in last week's update:

  • The Municipal Services Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend approval of a redesign for E. John St that features, among other things, a roundabout at the corner of John and E South River streets that would cut into the property at Mead Pool. That item will come before the council on Wednesday and is likely to be approved.
  • Neither of the authors of a resolution calling for the city to look into compensating recent special assessment properties were able to attend Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting, so as a courtesy their item was held. It will be back on the agenda when we meet again on Wednesday, January 28.
You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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