Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday morning headache thoughts after council

Another l o n g City Council last night and I had a Library Board meeting before Council so I was pretty brain dead after 5 1/2 hours of meetings.
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LOL - just got a call from my daughter in law - she is stuck in the BP car wash - the door would open.  Too funny.

My Wednesday morning rant

There is a pretty major bike ride starting and ending in Columbus Sunday Sept 14th - The 8th Annual Bike the Barns will have 600 avid cyclists (as I was at one time) riding 60 miles from farm to farm. For more information go to the CSA Coalition Website.

Last night the five active council members that show up (one one shows half of the time) had a long night of discussions.  

We repealed the demerit point system and voted to give a direct lease to the CTA (Columbus Theater Assc.) so they can now move forward with their non profit status.  Sadly, but not surprisingly, there can be no large scale fund raisers in the Auditorium because of safety concerns.  The past city government ignored the roof for so long it is unsafe for a large group.   I have a lot of confidence in the CTA and I feel the City of Columbus should help them as much as we can.  This is our last best hope for this building and if CTA cannot do it I will be dead and gone before anything gets done - NO PRESSURE!  

There is a proposal for an Assisted Living  Project on the north side of Hwy73 across from the hospital but the sticking point is the developers would like to make this area a TIF district.  The short answer of what a TIF is is that it's a method to use future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements.  There are good TIF's and bad TIFs and while I like this project and the fact that it will be on Curt Hanson's land (he will not allow a crappy looking building on his land and understands aesthetics) I have concerns over a TIF district . . . . NOT against it, I just don't know enough yet.  The GOOD thing is that the developers are dealing with facts and have a plan, unlike the ShopKo TIF which is vague and no real plans for years and years.

New Columbus lights ??
There was a presentation of the CSS Task Force which I had issues on (even though I'm ON the task force).

I REALLY dislike the new streetlights as I feel we are losing our character and historic charm of the downtown.  The reasoning behind the new lights (which are almost exactly what Sun Prairie and Madison and Horicon and most towns have) is that they are taller and we will have less poles WHICH in turn will allow us to have urban trees while the Milwaukee Harp Style lights are shorter and we will need more of them but I still believe we can have trees.

I'm surprised HLPC is OK with this rather major change to the character of the downtown to make us look like Anytown USA.  Our consultant has never shown a street level view of what the town would look like so we really have no clue.

Then there are the trees which got some push back.  Seems some store owners do not want trees because they will hide signage.  My question is  . . . FROM WHO?  THERE IS NOBODY DOWNTOWN.

They complain because Columbus looks old and tired and have no pedestrians - BUT - they also don't want to change.  And hiding signage?  Really?  Have you ever walked anywhere in any downtown and could not find a store because of too many trees?  Do they want more trees and more pedestrians or less trees and less pedestrians.  Again - who says we will have more people downtown if it looks better. Afraid of change!

THEN there is the corner of Dickason  where the CSS Taskforce
created 4 foot bumpouts with colored corners. In fact colored corners in all eight of the downtown corners.  However - we can't have color next to the F&M Bank because it is a Landmark which is fine - I can ALMOST understand that although I'm pretty sure Lewis Sullivan would have LOVED colored corners!

And then without our knowledge and against the will of the CSS Taskforce's wishes - ALL colored corners were taken out of the plan.  SURPRISE!

NOW - their are concerns and disapproval of the bumpouts because trucks from Vita Plus will have problems IF THEY ARE NOT CAREFUL getting around the corner.  I guess it's all about trucks downtown and not pedestrians.  Again - let's not change anything because it MIGHT fail. The Columbus downtown is doing fine - why change.  My hope is somebody will talk to Vita-Plus.  I mean they will need an alternate route for 4 months anyway when that street is closed.

Room Tax is a continued ongoing discussion from the Mayor about the use of the funds and how he does not want the room tax to help origination's fund events in Columbus (Xplosion, Horse and Carriage or any other groups that wish for money).  At least that is my understanding and I disagree.

I LIKE having these groups come to Columbus, use our restaurants, gas stations, fast food and hotels. Every time someone says the word Columbus in a positive way - isn't that advertising and marketing?

He feels the room tax should all go towards marketing by a private group that does not have to have Councils OK to spend as they wish.

My plan would have the new unknown marketing person the city is hiring be in charge of the 75% room tax for marketing and 25% go towards groups looking for handouts to help come to Columbus.

And there is the DIX Street area and reconstruction. The City Admin is talking to KwikTrip in Columbus about that little part of empty land and MAYBE move that entrance to Pic-n-Save and KwikTrip a little for better traffic flow if we can work together towards a common goal.

And that is my rant. There are always multiple sides to all of the above.