Thursday, February 25, 2010

Standard-Examiner Streetcar Double-Header

Some thoughtful commentary from one former Ogden City Councilwoman

By Dorrene Jeske

Scott Schwebke’s article in the Standard-Examiner this morning, “Dreams of two streetcar systems” generates a lot of unanswered questions, i.e., “How does the ‘$21.4 million 2.2-mile downtown loop circulator streetcar corridor’ qualify for federal funding without any feasibility and environmental studies being done? How is Godfrey able to push it ahead of the WSU-McKay Hospital corridor which has been on UTA’s and the Wasatch Front Regional Council’s drawing board for at least a decade? Can Ogden afford to do two streetcar projects simultaneously? If so, what are the fund resources?”

It is my opinion, that Godfrey’s immaturity (his childish traits of impatience and “I want it NOW!” attitude that he has demonstrated during his entire administration, is showing. I suppose that’s the price that Ogden has to pay for electing a child-mayor – one who had no administrative, executive and business experience before being elected mayor!

The logic given by UTA’S Gerry Carpenter for the Washington-36th street corridor in the article is pure bureaucratic hogwash! It is a prime example of the old saying, “You can make statistics say whatever you want,” and you can’t believe everything you read! His statement, “It best meets the purpose and needs of Ogden’s economic development goals,” merits much consideration and skepticism. One question that might be asked of him and the mayor is: “How is that true when: 1) South Ogden will benefit from a good share of the economic development and they have not contributed or even indicated that they would contribute ANYTHING to the project. 2) The past decade the city has worked hard and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to revitalize the inner-city neighborhoods and is still putting forth those efforts. It makes much more sense to run that streetcar corridor on one of the main eastbound streets (24th, 25th or 26th) where Ogden will benefit from ALL of the economic development created by the streetcar. The good people of that neighborhood have produced an excellent “neighborhood plan,” and need the help of the streetcar with its future economic impact to realize their goals. Since the neighbor plan is part of the City’s General Plan and promotes economic development, the Administration should support their efforts instead of fighting them. 3) The residents of the “Trolley District” have publicly stated their support of a streetcar system several times and promised the ridership support necessary for the streetcar’s success. The comments that I have heard regarding the Washington Blvd. corridor have not been positive and I question that it would be as successful as the routes being supported by potential customers of the Trolley District. 4) Washington Blvd. already has a lot of commercial development. I’m sure that the streetcar would add new businesses and rejuvenate Washington Blvd., but the economic development and neighborhood rejuvenation would be much greater and have more impact on Ogden’s economy. 5) Carpenter states in his quote for the SE that “potentially only 15 properties would have to be acquired by UTA.” Who is to say that they would be able to acquire ownership of all those homes without imposing eminent domain – not a good solution! While “only 15 properties” would need to be acquired for the 36th St. corridor, the number would be LESS for an inner-city corridor.

In reference to Charlie Trentlemen's article: Your dream may be realized someday. The Wasatch Regional Front Council has the streetcar corridor from North Ogden to Roy as you described in its long-range plans for Weber County.

I wonder when governments, and governmental agencies are going to learn that they need to listen to the people who pay their wages. Just as Utah is sending the federal government messages, it’s time the residents of Ogden to send their city and state governments some messages!

8 comments:

Tawna said...

None of this really seems to be very thought out. I highly doubt much credence has ever been given to what Trentelmen wrote about today, and I thought he made some fine points. And I am still baffled by the thought of a downtown loop that is being pushed by the Mayor (and supported by the Trolley District folks???). I thought we were starting to have some good movement with the WSU/hospital line, but that seems to be tanking. I must say my optimism and my support for a functional streetcar line is very much waning. As long as we have a misdirected administration in Ogden and as long as the City Council is as bureaucratic and hesitant as ever, we won't see much progress in this old town. Oh well, so it goes in Ogden.

Debbie Dew said...

Tawna, you're not clear in your statement that none of it has been thought out? Please state specifically what hasn't been thought out.

Have you attended any of the open houses on the streetcar and/or spoken to any of the representatives from UTA or the Wasatch Front Regional Council? If you had, you would know that both agencies have held numerous public meetings with the public (though they are poorly attended) and much thought has gone into the options that have been presented to the public.

I agree that the Washington/36th St. proposal (Godfrey's proposal and the reason it appears to be the option of where the streetcar line will run accoding to City maps) needs more discussion and Godfrey needs to listen to the input he is receiving and not shove that proposal down everyone's throat! But just like all egotistical dictators throughout history, the "mote in his eye" and his ego won't allow that.

The citizens in Ogden HAVE to let him know very loudly and very clearly that they will not support the Washington/36th St. proposal. We can't give up with the comment, "Oh well, so it goes in Ogden." That is exactly what Godfrey is hoping for.

Curmudgeon said...

At some point, seems to me, the Council may have to face this difficult question: Would it be better not to build a streetcar line now than to invest millions to build it in the wrong place [i.e. Washington/36th Street]?

I can't quite escape the thought that the Mayor's current shenanigans regarding the downtown loop line [thus preempting County transit funding], and his passionate pushing of the senseless 36th St line are both, in the end, motivated by a hope of preserving the downtown-to-Harrison-to-WSU route for his flatland gondola obsession, which evidence suggests he has not abandoned.

slarsen said...

As a self-proclaimed trolley supporter - I love the idea of streetcar lines crisscrossing our cities as they once use to - streetcars for everyone!!!!

The problem is funding. We can only afford to do so much, so we as a community should work together to prioritize which areas and projects should receive funding first. If the initial projects are well planned and turn out to be successful they will become a catalyst for the continued development of streetcar routes - if they are poorly planned and operated - then they will become a rallying point for anti-public transit politicians!

So what makes a streetcar route successful? Context! Cities develop around their predominant form of transportation. Shopping malls and big box stores are a product of an auto-centric society and are therefore not conducive to mass transportation. You simply cannot force streetcar into this system and expect it to thrive.

The heart of the central city, however was developed by streetcars - the storefronts face the street, buildings are pedestrian in scale, people live close to where they work and shop, and the entire system is human-friendly. By bringing streetcars back to our city centers, we also encourage the redevelopment and infill of city centers - bringing people and life back to our urban cores.

The fatal flaw with UTA's thinking is that they are designing transit to meet the needs of outlying suburban sprawl dwellers, and not the needs of inner city residents. This is completely counter-intuitive since sprawl is designed by and promotes auto-dependance. Bring transit back to the inner-city and you will bring life and people back to the inner city!

OgdenLover said...

Another concern with a 36th St - Washington route is crime. Since this traverses the City's self-advertised "high-crime" area, how many people will feel comfortable riding a streetcar there after dark. All it will take is one shot fired at a streetcar and ridership will plummet. There go the dreams of using the streetcar to bring bench-dwellers to downtown for an evening of dining and carousing.

Activist Granny said...

O.L.,
As Tawna pointed out (I think she was referring to the proposed 36th-St.-Washingtong corridor) that it was not well-thought out -- it was pushed by Godfrey! We know that he does not consider all angles in his proposals/actions. You have made a very good point -- at night I see many empty buses going along Ogden streets especially in the high crime areas of Ogden.

The next time the streetcar is on the city council's agenda, everyone needs to attend and present arguments against the Washington-36th St. route. Our objections will be public record then and will be a source of backup info in any disputes over the process used for the alternative analysis. UTA, the Feds, and the WFRC need to know that the mandated process for an A.A. is not being followed!

This is an important issue and Godfrey cannot be allowed to be the "elephant in the room" or behave like a "bull in a china closet," rant and rave, push and dictate the route over the public's input and desires. He is ONLY ONE OBNOXIOUS individual (one ride [doubtful that he would ride]) compared to the thousands of residents.

One of the reasons that the Ogden Mall failed was due to the fear of women to use the parking structure and management didn't listen or provide precautions for the safety of customers. Let's hope the powers that be have learned a lesson from the demise of the mall, and will insist on another, safer route for the streetcar!

disappointed said...

It's rather obvious to me that Godfrey will continue to get his way with things if this commentary, and its subsequent posts, is a reflection of how the Ogden olitical ball game is played. To ask and answer some of her well intentioned questions, posed in paragraph 1, by stating tha Godfrey is immature and has displayed childish traits throughout his administration, tells me that the "bright side" just doesn't get it. Therefore, the "dark side" will most likely prevail and pretty much achieve its own bidding.

In fact, this whole blog thing (maybe it due to a lack of "hot" news) appears to be weak and in the tank.

Where's the beef and the fun that was once a mainstay?

sick n tired said...

Disappointed,

I'd like to see Godfrey and his administrative team stopped of further raping our beautiful city and taking advantage of its residents, so please tell us what you think that we should do, so the dark side doesn't win. I'm at my wits end and would do anything short of murder to stop Godfrey.

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