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Friday, May 17, 2013

It's OK to Rejoice Again Caldwell

Once again we read and hear about all there is to be happy about with downtown Caldwell and our community.  We can have this for only another $65,000 when Roger Brooks comes back to town with yet more ideation and a plan to cure Caldwell's civic problems.

The latest idea for Caldwell is to make it a "tourist destination" and Mr. Brooks will help create yet another plan for a better future for Caldwell.  THE GUARDIAN has lived in Caldwell since the 1970's and witnessed the downward spiral of downtown in the face of several other plans that come to mind:  First, there was the RUDAT Study done in the early 1990's at a cost of $25,000.  Next we have had the Tom Hudson study for about $10,000, then we had the Dave Leland Report for a mere $140,000, then Oppenheimer Development for a starting price of $50,000 (and more), then the Master Framework Study with the help and inputs of Caldwell concerned citizens.

Now we have Roger Brooks who came to town for $30,000 to start via the sponsorship of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce.  Mr. Brooks got the good chamber members all fired up and feeling good.  Now there is a fund drive to bring Mr. Brooks back at the cost of an additional $65,000.  All this will be done with private money and contributions from the good people of Caldwell.  The Mayor and City Council are sitting on the sidelines in this effort.

It's OK to Rejoice Again Caldwell!  However, here's the reality; we have lots of studies in the file cabinets collecting dust for the lack of "political will" and funding from our Mayor and City Council.  Yes, we have a redundant TVCC annex funded by Caldwell citizens and yes we have a nice five block addition to the park system via Indian Creek.  What we lack in downtown Caldwell is a reason for our people to spend time an money in our downtown core. 

Mr. Brooks will no doubt make the people paying his fee feel very good but it will take public funds (urban renewal money) and political will to make anything meaningful happen in downtown.  Until then we will have another report full of pretty pictures and proclamations to take up space in a file cabinet. But there will be much rejoicing upon the return of Mr. Brooks to Caldwell.

Note of clarification..  CEURA will sunset on taking out additional bonding December 2014.  All the cash will still flow to the agency but they will send a cash windfall of property taxes to all the taxing districts that gave up their share of property tax money until December 2014.  Caldwell will have something north of $1MM/year flowing to the city coffers not dedicated to paying off revenue bonds.  The question is; what will they do with the money.  Downtown did not see much in the way of "renewal".  Perhaps it may be time to invest those funds in building community with what little cash left in the URA scheme.


  1. I had to be in downtown Caldwell recently for the 1st time in 3 or 4 years. I guess my question would be why would I want to invest there? It looks like a ghost town.

  2. There are two reasons for me to go downtown Caldwell, my bank and the Post Office.

    The sad part of my observations about jobs and employment is license plates you see in various parking lots. Skilled and up jobs have employees with 1A plates on the cars in the parking lots. Caldwell is in a race to the bottom to see how many service and low sill jobs we can attract.

    I don't have a good answer to what would cure the problems of downtown Caldwell but my family has little reason to go there anymore.

  3. I can't figure out what the Urban Renewal efforts did for downtown. The creek is nice but what has it done to bring people downtown? It is a pretty drab and depressing place when you get ring down to it. I can't help but wonder what a bunch of meetings and spending all that money will do for Caldwell when all is said and done.

  4. Those old buildings in downtown will cost more to rehabilitate than it would cost to build a new structure from the ground up. Get over it and start eliminating all the eyesores in downtown with what little money that can be devoted to this clean up effort.

  5. Aren't we forgetting something here. This downtown property is PRIVATE property, and the "Lucky" owners invested in it for better or worse. What prey tell is their "entitlement" to have have funds from property tax revenue improve it for them. This logic makes me want to puke. I own commercial/investment property in Caldwell and it is my responsibility to make it work and this sort of diversion of the taxes I pay is certainly not an incentive.

    1. Virtually all the "new growth" in this valley has seen some form of subsidy from local governments. Sky Ranch in Caldwell has seen all manner of freebies from 10 megs of power, roads, taxes forgiven, outright giveaways for the costs of city services like water and sewer lines costing millions, a $3MM road widening project from the Flying J to Smeed Parkway, a street light and other handouts I may have missed.

      Downtown Caldwell is what out community identity is to all of us as well as our outward look to those who may be thinking about locating here. More than $60 MM will have been spent by Caldwell East Urban Renewal and yet downtown remains a largely blighted area. We have Indian Creek and a redundant TVCC college to CWI that was supposed to bring "critical mass" to downtown.

      The bid question remains... what is there in downtown that will bring Caldwell residents to this overall blighted area?

    2. It's Big and Yellow and driven by a man wearing a Cat hat.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. The proposed plaza area where the Kings building now stands is a very good example of how things work in our fair city. A sub-committee of economic development proposed this to the Urban Renewal board Eljay said “you don't have a plan”. So money was spent and a plan and pictures made for Eljay. Back to the agency yet again, Eljay; said “but you don't have the costs”. Cost research was done, and back to the agency and finally a forward motion was approved. However, Eljay said who he wanted to be the representing realtor. The next news was Eljay was signing for the property purchase on behalf of the Urban Renewal agency.

    At this point the Mayor and Eljay told the press that the property had been purchased, and “they didn't know what they were going to do with it”. The most interesting part about all of this is Mayor Nancolas said he had been to a conference and the presenter said a plaza was one of the best things you could do for a city core area. And he whole heartedly supported the effort. Mind you no contact with the founding group of Economic Development people was made during all of this to explain that their project now belonged to the Mayor and Eljay.

    This is why there are now 5 studies in the drawer, and upward of 60 million dollars spent by Urban Renewal and the Caldwell core area shows little improvement.

    This is why I have to ask, does the Rodger Brooks proposal fall in the category of “HOPE SPRINGES ETERNAT or A FOOL NEVER LEARNS”. We have a strong Mayor Council form of government; they have the authority to restructure the Urban Renewal board membership, starting with the chairman.

    The way the plaza proposal has been handled is a slap in the face of the group that put in the effort together and a snub of their economic development effort. Yes it's ok to get excited but we need to start by fixing the problem.

    1. Because these proposals all are asking for some sort of government subsidy be it Urban Renewal, grants, subsidies etc. does it really suprise anyone when the empowered givers of these goodies force their input. An examination of these guys resumes, if they exist, would certainly show the value of their judgement or opinion in such matters as is generally the case when spending OPM (other peoples money). The entire process is fatally flawed and over time is a "Tree to weak to Stand". Thinking any of this will change is probably insanity especially when voters don't give a damn and VOTE.

    2. The post on the proposed plaza came to the Guardian blog from Bob Carpenter of Carpenter Screen Print here in Caldwell. His name got omitted when I posted the comment.


  8. I remember all the hoopla when the RUDAT study was done. It was front page news and everyone perceived it as a new beginning for downtown Caldwell. The report was put together and as far as I can determine not much else got done. I am pretty sure not much will change with Mr. Brooks and his perceived needs for downtown and Caldwell in general.

    I hope I am wrong but subsequent studies have not borne much in the way of revitalizing downtown. Too bad because I have always thought Caldwell to be a diamond in the rough.

  9. I think its ok for the city gov. to help out and get funding to disperse to local business for improvements. Local gov. needs to get out of the real estate business. Caldwell has a local Chamber of Commerce. Where are they at in the renewal process. After all it is business that is going to turn the city on the up side not government. Tearing down the the city center is not the answer. Renew / revive the old architecture. Tearing down buildings and making a park is not the answer. Caldwell is now Park poor. I see that if this current trend keeps on going on its current path, the city of Caldwell will have a very large unsustainable local government. Yes the Indian Creek project is nice. And yes, some of the buildings had to go, but when you remove the visable history from the town you have nothing of interest for the local population to be proud of. Let alone go to and enjoy. Part of the business of local government representatives is to work along with the business communitee and help make / keep a healthy communittee. And on the other hand the private sector is there to give guideance to the local government. Is it the will of the people to have the Local government control all that goes on in Caldwell?

  10. It would be a lovely gesture on the part of our Mayor to explain the "plan" he refers to in his speeches to all of us. There must be something he can share with us for a better understanding of what he sees as the future of Caldwell. I am more than a little confused on where we are headed as a city and the future vision for Caldwell.


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