Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Harrison Square Passes

As expected the Fort Wayne city council voted to release the funding for Harrison Square on a 6-3 vote with councilmen Schmidt, Smith and Schoaff being the only dissenters. The public hearing before the vote was almost 4 hours long and had 75 speakers for, 28 against and 11 either half-crazy or undecided.

Some random thoughts/observations from the meeting

Don Schmidt is still not convinced that the redevelopment commission followed the law when purchasing the property to be used by Harrison Square. The city attorney vehemently disagreed - I would not be surprised to see a lawsuit stem from this issue.

During councilman Schoaff's (D-at large) comments Matt Kelty (R-mayoral candidate) was overheard saying "I like this guy". I'm not sure that's an official endorsement but interesting nonetheless.

Councilman Talarico had very strong words against Kelty for suggesting the vote should be postponed until after a new mayor is elected - "Who is HE to tell this mayor, who got 60% of the vote, that he can't lead in his 4th year."

Councilman Hayhurst predicted that incomes in Fort Wayne would climb back to 100% of the national average - they are currently at 80%. I'm sorry but this is falls into "dreamer" category. I suppose he didn't put a timeline on it so it could happen eventually but we are a long, long way away.

Councilman Pape gave a rambling speech about the history of failures for Abraham Lincoln - much the chagrin of the audience. The noticeable discontent in the crowd had nothing to do with the content of what Pape was saying but more like it was taking him too long to say it. I suppose he was paying everyone back for having to sit through their comments.

Crawford, ever the wiseguy, passed on casting the first vote and left everyone in suspense until the very end when he voted to support the project.

Yours truly spoke to the council about stopping the outsourcing of public funds in order to keep the money local in support of economic development. I also spoke about the problems with expanding the TIF districts into new areas and how that will impact our property taxes. It will be interesting to see how the city approaches the OmniSource property that they are considering for development. Hopefully, they will decide to let Harrison Square be the "catalyst" they claim it is and not expand the TIF.