Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ogden Velodrome Fantasy

Rejected RAMP application lists $13 million in make-believe matching funds

By Dan Schroeder

Amid all the discussion of its possible displacement of St. Anne's, the big news about the Godfrey administration's proposed velodrome was almost overlooked: The administration asked for $2 million in RAMP funds (over four years) for the velodrome, and the RAMP committee said no.

The nice thing about the RAMP process is that it's public. So whenever the Godfrey administration applies for RAMP money, we have a rare opportunity to see their plans laid out in black and white, in their grant application. Unable to resist, I contacted the RAMP administrator a few days ago and got myself a copy of the rejected application for the velodrome.

The application includes two pages of itemized construction costs totaling $15 million. Then comes a page listing the proposed sources of revenue:

a. Ogden City - Capital Improvement Program: $2 million
b. RAMP: $2 million (over four years)
c. Easton Sports Development Foundation Corporation: $2 million
d. Weber State University and Tennis Community: $3.5 million
e. USA Cycling Association and Cycling Community: $3.5 million
f. Ogden Velodrome Naming Sponsor: $2 million

You may recall that the administration originally stated that the city's contribution would be "more than $100,000", then asked the city council for $1 million in January. But so far the council hasn't allocated any money to the project.

The application includes three supporting letters, pertaining to items c through e:

1. A letter from the WSU tennis coach, enthusiastically describing how useful the velodrome's indoor tennis courts will be--but with no mention of any contribution toward construction costs.

2. A letter from USA Cycling, expressing that organization's serious commitment to using the velodrome's cycling track--but with no mention of any contribution toward construction costs.

3. A letter from Easton Sports Development Foundation, offering between $1.5 million and $2 million toward construction of an archery center--on the condition that ESDF would then own the building.

In other words, all six revenue sources consist of nothing more than wishful thinking at this time.

The RAMP application states that WSU, USA Cycling, and ESDF would enter into long-term lease agreements with the city, to operate their respective portions of the building. But the details are vague, and it's impossible to tell what the city's annual cost would be for operations and maintenance.

Fortunately, the RAMP program is run by adults who have learned to tell the difference between a serious proposal and a make-believe fantasy.

The RAMP administrator also informed me that from now on, RAMP funding for major projects will be handled on a reimbursement basis rather than given up-front. So even if the velodrome application had been approved, we wouldn't have had another ice tower fiasco where the city starts spending the RAMP money before raising any of the matching funds.

In conclusion, Weber County RAMP seems to be in good hands, and the county is benefiting from the program's sound decisions. Meanwhile, Ogden City is ending up with far less than its fair share of RAMP funds, thanks to the incompetence on the ninth floor.

For your reference, I've attached the Godfrey administration's rejected RAMP grant application, together with other supporting documents below:
RAMP Grant Application (pdf - 1.54 MB)
Velodrome Drawings (pdf - 1.31 MB)
Reader comments are invited, as always.

19 comments:

RJ Svengali said...

On our daily jaunt to the Treehouse Museum, we have been delighted to notice the use of RAMP funds in the refurbishment of various small exhibits within.

It would seem money from RAMP might be best used on small projects with wide public benefit, rather than large projects targeted towards bringing more investment into Ogden.

We seriously doubt the Boards Regent will allocate a few million for tennis, when public education in general is barely able to make current payroll.

We would like to see Ogden City continue to court sports companies and build on the current trend towards high adventure tourism; but either ask citizens to vote on funding through a tax, or just shut up about it until the money is in your hands.

This is our opinion.

Moroni McConkie said...

Many thanks for this good work, Dan. Too bad the Standard-Examiner wasn't interested.

Right on said...

RJS-

We generally tend to disagree with your views and consider you to be a pompous douchebag, but couldn't agree with you more regarding your above post. RAMP funds should benefit the WHOLE community, not just the visiting few.

dan s. said...

MM,

Who said the S-E wasn't interested in this? I wouldn't expect them to take the same angle (except perhaps in an editorial), but they have reported on the velodrome proposal on several occasions.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

But I don't think they've reported, as you have, from easily available public documents, that no one has committed any funds to this pipe dream beyond a few organizations willing to say only that it's a really good idea, provided somebody else pays for 85% of it. I think, along with MM, the SE missed a chance here to do some significant reporting, from public sources, on just how gossamer-thin the funding [politely so called] for the velodrome project is and has always been. And it would have, by that reporting, done the community... also known as its readers... a service.

Instead, again, someone had to do it for them. For which thanks, Dan. Again.

OgdenLover said...

Just to point out how sloppily this proposal was put together, the written description says 8 tennis courts. The drawing shows only 6. Yes, it's a sort-of-minor point, but such lack of care typifies the slipshod management of our city government. BTW, who paid for the drawing? Those don't grow on trees.

dan s. said...

Curm,

I guess my expectations for the S-E have dipped to a new low, so I'm thankful for whatever we can get.

OL,

I noticed that too--and I think one of the news articles promises 10 tennis courts. Just one more reason to be suspicious of all the numbers.

The drawings were done by VanZeben Architecture, one of the mayor's campaign contributors ($1000). A simple GRAMA request would suffice to find out how much they were paid, and out of what account.

danny said...

I would be nice if the Godfrey administration could put together some proposals for the money Obama is shoveling out.

But given recent efforts, it appears the Godfrey administration does it's paperwork on such a decidedly poor level that most people will not consider it.

You get the sense of a little kid, in his bedroom, drawing castles in the sky, all the while totally clueless.

This guy is the mayor.

drewmeister said...

Right on: Tehehe. Definitely right on. ;-)

Dan S.: I love you. You are most definitely my new hero. But I fear for you.. I hope your home is at an inconspicuous location, because I'll bet the Yard Nazi (code enforcement inspector) is going to be all over your lawn like white on rice this summer.

disgusted said...

noticed that in the construction bid there is no allowance for hvac. i.e. no heating and air conditioning. to include hvac in a building that size you add another 1 to 2 mil.
other components of the budget are way low or shots in the dark. if council ever looses their mind and thinks about this project they should first ask for final bids and budget numbers that have been refined to within +/-10% of actuals costs before they vote. other wise this might turn out to be a 30 plus mil project and not worth the investment.

the lovely jennifer said...

Page 7, listed past RAMP projects:

2007 Completed RAMP Projects:
... Ice Climbing Tower

um, where?

drewmeister said...

disgusted: Respectfully, I think the city throwing even $100.00 towards this project isn't worth the investment. We have so many other things to take care of. For example, my street was plowed on only two occasions this entire winter season. The rest of the time we've had to use the "thaw" method of snow removal. Our water system is decaying, and our city utility fees have doubled in the last couple of years. We've had murders and drive-bys and more than a dozen arsons in the last year (despite the "decrease" in crime) while our officers are on traffic duty. I wonder if our Lordship the mayor has any musical talents involving fiddles.

Imagine if the council folds and allows him to pursue this latest ridiculous scheme: "Our tap water smells like fish, but we have a velodrome!!" "Really? What the hell's a velodrome?"

drewmeister said...

disgusted: Addendum: You're exactly right about the HVAC.. they actually have the line there listed in the breakdown of expenditures, with the total cost being -- blank!!

I had figured what you described was really that it was mixed in with other cost projections. But if the line for HVAC is there, it seems logical that it wouldn't have been included with any other categories. But blank?? Who prepares a multi-million dollar cost projection and leaves major categories blank?

Awh, hell, HVAC shouldn't cost that much. We'll just borrow any needed funds from BDO. What? there's no more money from BDO? Hmm. Get Greiner on the phone, tell him we need to jack up the ticket quotas asap..

zzzz said...

Yep, we shouldn't have something like that. Or an ice rink, conference center, or anything public that isn't a field of green grass or a paved pathway.

drewmeister said...

zzzz: You're right, zzzz.. we shouldn't bother filling out applications correctly, or bother with fully funding police, fire, and street departments all the while we're busy digging craters and leaving dozens of homes vacant. THAT is much more important than, say, safe neighborhoods, clean drinking water and city budgets that aren't hemorrhaging red ink.

What it boils down to is that the city does not have the funds (our money) to continue building these palaces of Versailles for his Lordship. If someone wants to blow $15-30 mill of their own funds to build it, then by all means. As long as it's someone who can actually pay for it, as opposed to, say, most FOMs.

"Our tap water smells like fish, but we have a velodrome!"

googlegirl said...

Salisbury mayor dislikes bloggers exposing politicians

G'n'R lives said...

Drew... you are exactly right. There are far more needed projects in Ogden that need to be completed. The city's sidewalks are one example.. I was on the waiting list for five years before mine got fixed... Hell, half the time I see school kids walking down the street because there are no sidewalks. The only reason the walk got fixed is because one of the neighborhood kids fell and got hurt... At this rate of spending my property taxes should unpayable and i'll be moving to South Ogden to avoid the heavy taxes.... come on guys get a clue.

disgusted said...

drewmeister
besides the items in the project cost that i listed you will notice that there is no operation cost budget listed. as i mentioned the project cost looks to be a shot in the dark as to cost. another disaster in the making.
both the cost of the project and the operating costs are needed to determine the viability. from what i read the project cant be taken for anything more than a poorly thought out concept.
interesting too that a letter to the editor in the se on 3/4/09 came from a supporter of the project that did more damage to the project than good. in his comments the writer pointed out that there is a bmx track in west jordan that is one of the top five in the nation according to the writer and that the american bicycle association is building an indoor facility in farmington. also that logan has an indoor bike track.
with that many indoor bike track facilites in such close proximity to ogden what is the likelyhood that there is enough business for all of them. get real godfrey.
the whole idea is late to the dance and not what ogden needs to be focusing on. ogden needs to start giving people a reason to think about living in this community. reasons like low crime good schools dependable snow removal good roads spring clean up and low taxes.
if anything what godfrey is going to do is drive our taxes out of sight and cause the responsible residents to flee for other communities that have lower taxes and better city services.
this whole velodoom idea should be dropped immediately by the mayor.

RJ Svengali said...

Low crime and great schools should be the the absolute top priorities.

And they walk hand in hand.

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