April 12, 2005 > Editorial:
CIP meets reality...or does it?
CIP meets reality...or does it?
Last week the Fremont City Council was shown a list of projects under the heading, Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The review was an effort to align city infrastructure and service needs to the budget. It doesn't take a top flight mathematician to understand that when the budget is tight, many funding requests will go unanswered. However, a close look reveals an interesting staff recommendation.
Each year, the city council follows the dream of a downtown by showing artist renditions of wonderful buildings and smiling people walking along pedestrian thoroughfares under a sunny sky. Paying consultants and drawing pictures is expensive; so is paying staff for time consulting with the consultants. In this case, time and money spent for the future downtown appears similar to putting the cart before the horse. There is nothing wrong with holding fast to a strong and vibrant vision for the city - including downtown development - but spending millions of dollars on a possibility while existing city infrastructure crumbles is not acceptable.
The council is currently laying away $1 million each year into a downtown fund while streets are left to crack, parks are untended and neighborhoods are told that speed controls are too expensive. This represents a calculated choice of future development over present essential repairs and services.
It may serve the council's interest to allow streets and services to deteriorate so the "Son of V" can rise from the ashes of the failed Proposition V Utility Tax, but the shell game of putting money in one pocket while showing the other as empty and crying "poor" needs to be explored. Now, another consultant has been hired to determine how the city of Fremont can revive the ill-conceived utility tax.
If council members would consult with business leaders and citizens BEFORE they craft a tax, thousands of consultant dollars could be saved. Using fear tactics to win grudging acceptance at the polls is worlds apart from acting as leaders who instill confidence and trust.
The total budget for the "Downtown Plan" (CIP No. 755) is $8 million of which $3 million has been previously funded. Until the economy recovers and the city has shown its ability to construct a development project efficiently with a result of recognized quality - let's see what happens with the Centerville Unified Site - at least some of that money could be shifted to other areas.
This council should concentrate on vital needs and projects that represent pressing problems for its constituents. When the time comes - it will - and money begins to flow again, there will be time to consider the downtown plan and how it should unfold. There appears to be a blind intransigence by these folks to display pictures, pay consultants and present them as reality.
Mr. Miyagi had sage advice for his young protègè in the Karate Kid movie..."FOCUS." Daniel-san had trouble doing this and it took hours with paintbrush, polishing cloth and sandpaper to get the picture. Maybe it is time for the council-san to pick up sandpaper and focus on the basics.