Tracking code caldwell guardian

Friday, May 9, 2008

More Pretty Pictures Scheduled for Caldwell Downtown Meeting

THE GUARDIAN has learned the city deciders have paid out yet another $50,000.00 to the Oppenheimer Development Group to put a "Plan" together for downtown Caldwell. Given all the constraints Mr. Oppenheimer has encountered like no political will ( andvery little cash), no vision, coupled with recalcitrant property owners, downtown Caldwell and the creek project may end up as a nice five block addition to the city park system. And the very nice people from Oppenheimer etal pack up because they can't get anything started in Caldwell.

The $50K given to the Oppenheimer Group will be simply a pretty picture presentation of the possibilities of what could potentially happen and nothing to do with reality. THE GUARDIAN has distilled it down to the City Deciders having one and only one location for the new city hall project with no other sites really in consideration. Add to the mix the fact actual willing sellers of downtown grid property are pretty much ignored by the city for development projects. Let's not forget about those people really interested in downtown virtually marginalized by city deciders for their "out of the box" thinking.

Add to all of the aforementioned the use of imminent domain off the table for property acquisition. And a healthy mix of property owners wanting to retire to the Bahamas or Florida on the sale of derelict buildings. We have the "perfect storm" for nothing ever going to happen in terms of economic development in downtown Caldwell.

What do we have? Quite simply, we will get another pretty set of photos and a report that we can add to the Leland report that cost $140,000 and this one that cost $50,000.00 and a five block extension of the city park system.

THE GUARDIAN has arrived at the conclusion the city decider folks are more or less like stopped clocks, they do absolutely nothing and can be right at least twice a day. There is currently budgeted $3MM in urban renewal monies for downtown Caldwell over the next two years. (Supported in the budget of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency, obtained via a public records request.) It would seem reasonable that if you want to start down the "yellow brick road" blight has to be removed first. To that end it would seem prudent, as property comes up for sale, the urban renewal monies go to buy this property and it get flattened and cleared, no matter where the location in the downtown grid. Then, if someone comes in, a clean palette exists in a lot of different areas of the downtown grid. The possibilities dramatically open up for economic development in a wide variety of locations. All the eggs are not in one basket.

Additionally, people wanting to sell can take advantage of the City bids for their property (or not) but removal and clearance of blight marches forward clearing the way for progress and a revitalized downtown Caldwell. However, this does not mitigate the need for a "plan" and developers held to the parameters of the "plan".

A meeting is scheduled for the 29th of May at the Caldwell Center for the Arts (the old Catholic Church for most of us). The Oppenheimer Group will give us the update on their progress or lack thereof along with some more pretty pictures of the possibilities.

Mr. Oppenheimer and his people have to be very frustrated with what is going on and the lack of progress along with those of us that would like to see an actual plan that sets the agenda for downtown Caldwell. Not many cities get the opportunity to reinvent themselves and the City Deciders have simply not seized this opportunity to redefine Caldwell as a unique city in the Northwest as a model of what can happen with a New Urbanist Planning and LEEDS standards for redevelopment.

The city deciders appear to be content to let things unfold as they may in the absence of a much needed plan.

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