Tuesday, September 07, 2010

River Restoration $900,000 Over Budget?

Article’s facts are so muddled, how can we tell?

By Dan Schroeder

This morning’s Standard-Examiner provides us with an important update on the Ogden River Restoration, under the headline, “Half-mile stretch of the Ogden River restored.” That sounds like great news, and I’m sure it is, for the most part. This is a good project that was long overdue.

But the article’s geography is hopelessly muddled. First it says that the restoration has been completed from Kiesel to Wall (which may barely add up to a half mile). Then in the the next two sentences, it says that future phases will go from Grant to Lincoln and Lincoln to Wall—both of which are within the stretch that’s supposedly been completed. The article also says they’ve extracted 10 car bodies near Gibson, but later implies that restoration of the river from Wall Ave. to Gibson hasn’t even been funded yet.

Of special interest is the article’s breakdown of the funding for this project: $1.1 million from federal stimulus funds, $825,000 from our local sewer district, $800,000 from Ogden’s stormwater fees, and so on. The total comes to just about $3 million, which is $900,000 more than we were told in January. If the new numbers are correct, it means that this project is now 43% over budget—and it raises the question of how the city came up with the additional $900,000.

But given the article’s geographical inaccuracies, can we trust the accuracy of its financial data? I have no idea. I’ve sent an email to City Engineer Justin Anderson asking for clarification, and I’ll post a comment here if/when he gets back to me.

Update 9/8/10 9:00 a.m. per Dan S: As promised, here's an update based on my inquiry to City Engineer Justin Anderson.

"Phase 1" refers to the stretch of the river from Kiesel to Wall. Within Phase 1, the stretch from Kiesel to Grant is substantially finished. The stretch from Grant to Lincoln will be finished later this month, except for some plantings that need to wait for spring. The stretch from Lincoln to Wall will be finished by mid-December, again with the exception of plantings that need to wait for spring.

West of Wall is considered "Phase 2", and is only partially funded. They'll do what they can while the money lasts.

The $2.1 million cost reported last January, and the $3 million cost reported today, should be thought of as the available funds, rather than the cost of completing a specific portion of the river. Apparently they've gotten an additional $500,000 from the sewer district and $150,000 from stimulus money, and some other additional funds from the county and other sources. This will allow them to complete more of Phase 2 of the project. As the article notes, some work has already been done in the Phase 2 area. However, the full cost of Phases 1 and 2 would be substantially more than $3 million, so they're not promising to finish Phase 2 by any particular date.

24 comments:

Stephen M. Cook said...

Most of the manual work should have been done by active and concerned Ogden boosters, volunteering on civic pride day.
You fat and lazy humans cant do anything with out a wad full of borrowed cash and sludging smoke belching machines.

As for the "reporting" on this project, does anyone at the SE ever leave their climate controlled office/smartphone/press release universe?
What would it take to fact check this? A 15 minute bike ride.

And funding? Over budget?
There are no spendable funds. Its all just a shell game for the banker/developer/realtor interests.

Humans; sheesh

althepal said...

900 grand here, 900 grand there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

Ozboy the faithful said...

You naysayers just don't get it!

This is the land of Oz and we all know that the Wizard works in mysterious ways. Who are we to question him?

All any of us need to know is that what goes on behind the great curtain stays behind the great curtain.

Now get on with your lifes and just trust in the Wiz and know he will pull the appropriate levers at the appropriate time.

Gadi said...

Honestly, I think we should just let Stephen Cook do this, and EVERYTHING else, trust him, and all will be fine. Is there anything this guy doesn't bitch about?

As for the $900K over budget--I agree, Dan, that the story was basically shoddy, especially the part about Kiesel to Wall that would be followed up by Grant to Lincoln and Lincoln to Wall. The other mis construances also give pause. So, keeping in the same vein, if the bulk of the story is probably inaccurate, why wouldn't the $900K also be inaccurate? You guys slam the inaccuracies that fit your agenda, then accept the part that does give you fits, the budget.

Can't have it both ways now. It either is or it isn't. Let's be glad that a portion of the river is now restored and hopefully, this will kick off more movement in that area.

Let's all take a breath: "Humans; sheesh."

Monotreme said...

My Google maps shows the distance from Kiesel to Wall along the river at 1400 feet. That's a little more than a quarter-mile.

Of course, when we just make up the facts to suit our preconceptions (see: crime stats, economic projections, parking spaces, etc., etc.) then a quarter-mile becomes a half-mile and $3 million becomes $3.9 million.

SE Critic said...

Scott Schwebke is a terrible writer. He takes notes when he's writing an SE story, and then publishes these notes in no particular order.

All good writers organize their writings, with a mental outline, at least.

Scott Schwebke is obviously too lazy to do that.

I'm still wondering why the SE continues to employ this dipshit.

Maybe it just comes down to the fact that he'll work cheap.

Times are tough for US Newspapers, after all.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Mr. Gadi:

I would be more than glad to take a few hours a week, and proactively join a few thousand of my LDS church brethren, local youth group leaders and their pimple-faced troops, 25th street owners and chubby patrons, and especially: east bench environmentalists, and head over to any worthy Ogden City project with some shovels, rakes, a couple of dunp trucks and winches, and clean up the area.

In the spirit of public serve, I might even bring over a back hoe and some asphalt.

See, you miss the general point: local civic pride and "restoring Ogden" will not occur through insider-bidding a bunch of scheming projects, plotting boondoggles that only a select few dim-bulbs with "vision" would waste your tax money on, or by paving our way into a new debt crisis.

Rebuilding Ogden, and America in general, is all about people assuming ownership of public spaces, rallying around a worthy symbol, and actually putting down the remote control and participating in the renaissance. Sweat, thrift, and good intentions; remember?

The river project? Great idea, and well tried in other cities of note.
The execution, however, appears to have been implemented by pig-people sluicing a trough with filth from the wallow; by those who hardly ever ride a bike on a trail, ever.

As long as this attitude prevails, persons with influence will hop in their HumVees and head to Riverdale, Layton, and SLC, and will take the 89 exit rather than the I-15 24th street exit when coming north with their visiting from out-of-town acquaintances.

As far as "kicking off more movement" in the area? Yeah, just build it on the tax payer dime, and they will come, right?
Wrong, Salomon Center Booster. Persons taking ownership, and pulling themselves up, is what will cause locals to come; locals to invest; locals to care.
At least, that is what we used to teach our children in this do-it-yourself land.
Now, we just call the bankers and professional money-spenders, and pour non-existent money on the "problem".

Ommans; sheesh.

RudiZink said...

You're on a roll, Stephen. Please keep up the good work.

blackrulon said...

I agree with Stephen M. Cook. Ogden citizens should take a active part in changing the culture of Ogden. I have a pitchfork. We just need a group of concerned citizens with tar and feathers to help clean up the city. Lets march on local officals who have failed Ogden.

Curmudgeon said...

BR:

The Ogden Group of the Utah Sierra Club, along with several other organizations, takes part an Ogden River clean-up [roughly from the mouth of Ogden Canyon downstream, warm volunteer bodies allowing, to past Wall every spring. [Not sure how far west the annual clean up goes.] The city provides trucks to pick up trash pulled out of the river and off its banks that volunteers leave along the roads paralleling the river at designated spots. One hell of a lot of trash gets picked up, everything as a rule from car batteries to used diapers.

Other groups do clean ups in other areas at other times. Just want to note that there are citizen volunteers in Ogden who donate time/effort to the city for such things. Some Ogden businesses [like Amer Sports] support the volunteer clean up efforts. Moving cars, however, and large concrete blocks is beyond the normal volunteer clean-ups capabilities. I think I recall we moved a couch or two.

Dan S. said...

As promised, here's an update based on my inquiry to City Engineer Justin Anderson.

"Phase 1" refers to the stretch of the river from Kiesel to Wall. Within Phase 1, the stretch from Kiesel to Grant is substantially finished. The stretch from Grant to Lincoln will be finished later this month, except for some plantings that need to wait for spring. The stretch from Lincoln to Wall will be finished by mid-December, again with the exception of plantings that need to wait for spring.

West of Wall is considered "Phase 2", and is only partially funded. They'll do what they can while the money lasts.

The $2.1 million cost reported last January, and the $3 million cost reported today, should be thought of as the available funds, rather than the cost of completing a specific portion of the river. Apparently they've gotten an additional $500,000 from the sewer district and $150,000 from stimulus money, and some other additional funds from the county and other sources. This will allow them to complete more of Phase 2 of the project. As the article notes, some work has already been done in the Phase 2 area. However, the full cost of Phases 1 and 2 would be substantially more than $3 million, so they're not promising to finish Phase 2 by any particular date.

Jennifer Neil said...

Stephen Cook:

Just wanted to let you know I Have Seen Mr. Schwebke out .. as in out in public places, and I'm one to tell you: his mother dresses him funny. Anyone who has witnessed said S-E reporter out and about can attest to the same.

As far as volunteers, those mentioned by our beloved Curmudgeon above do come to the fore when called upon (maybe Godfrey's crones chase them off?) and we have a new family in town: The Ogden Hippie Militia, who have taken on parks and other open space in the Ogden area.

TLJ

Huck Finn said...

What a great idea, TLJ.

I noticed Carrie Gerber on the list of participants. Since when were ANY of the Gerber family hippies?

Ray said...

I noticed the following on ksl.com:

Ogden City mayor decides against burning homes along corridor
September 7th, 2010 @ 3:38pm
OGDEN - The City of Ogden won't burn dozens of vacant homes along the Ogden River in a section of town known as the Ogden River Project area.

Ogden City Mayor Matthew Godfrey announced Tuesday the burning of dozens of dilapidated and vacant homes was not economically feasible.

He said, "There never has been a proposal to burn all 45 homes and that is not the discussion (for the city council) this evening. We burned two homes and from that have learned that there isn't much savings in burning vs. traditional demolition. We are planning on demolishing all the remaining homes and tonight the council is hopefully going to approve that funding."

Estimates had place traditional demolition for the 45 homes at $610,800. The city estimated burning down the structures would cost no more than $545,150.

"There has never been a proposal to burn all 45 homes." Did I miss something in the months of discussions on this topic or is the Mayors nose another 6 inches longer now? Repeat lies long enough and they become truths?

Curmudgeon said...

SL Trib has a story up, reporting that the Ogden City Council approved money for the demolitions only after Hizzonah agreed there would be no more burnings-as-demolitions. Story says the money was approved as part of an ordinance dealing with several expenditures of BDO monies, and the vote was 4-3. No details on who voted how or why. The Trib story can be found here.

Biker Babe said...

Godfrey said: Ogden City Mayor Matthew Godfrey announced Tuesday the burning of dozens of dilapidated and vacant homes was not economically feasible.

He said, "There never has been a proposal to burn all 45 homes and that is not the discussion (for the city council) this evening. We burned two homes and from that have learned that there isn't much savings in burning vs. traditional demolition. We are planning on demolishing all the remaining homes and tonight the council is hopefully going to approve that funding."

um, were his lips moving when he said all that? Nuff Said

js

BB

taxpayer said...

Somewhat off-topic but very interesting:

Taxpayers in New Jersey still paying for stadium abandoned by team it was built for

ozboy said...

Isn't Kiesel to Grant about one short block? Seems like an incredible amount of tax payer money was spent to clean up one lousy little block's worth of debris. Can someone give any detail on why it costs so much? Is there any authority that audits this kind of public spending to make sure the money is spent well and not to line the pockets of those connected to the politicians who make the spending decisions?

what will it cost us said...

I have been after the City Council to audit the books an independent audit but they are too scared of the mayor. Where does he get all this slush money to spend without council approval?

Lets see how much is collected via the water fees and where ever the city has revenue coming in. Lets have some public oversight of city spending. How can the city keep paying city executives over $100K for empty suits, with no real experience. Look at the decisions being made and how much it has cost the taxpayers.

Curmudgeon said...

Oz:

"Clean up" is not an accurate description of all that was done there. There was considerable work done on bank and bankside restoration, replanting, lots of stone work, settlement ponds where sewers surge into the river, etc. It was not just a clean up. Walk from Washington west along the south bank parkway path and you'll get a better idea of what was involved.

You could argue if you wanted to that spending that much to create a stable riverside park area [and that's what it looks like], with all the water management construction involved [along with the cleanup] was not a good idea, but I'd disagree with you on that. This sort of thing ---improving public areas of the city --- is IMHO exactly what the city should be investing in instead of pumping subsidies to private owners to rehab retail spaces when there's a glut of brand new and newly rehabbed spaces in the same area that haven't found tenants.... many of them built and rehabbed with public money.

If public money improves public areas of cities, it creates more desirable locations for apts, condos, homes, stores etc. It works. This part of the River Project is one that makes sense. But the only one [so far] that does.

Anonymous said...

ms neil needs to know that mr schwebke dresses a lot better than Trentelman does -- Scott wears a tie and clean pants.

Dave Barry once said that journalists were people who's idea of fashion was to wear their dockers with the zipper in front. He was close.

And what, exactly, does your criticism of our sartorial efforts have to do with anything? and, yes, I'll want to see the brand tags on your clothing next time I see you.

Curmudgeon said...

Anon:

Right. What matters is the product, not the package.

Which I wish Hizzonah would remember when pitching dazzling visions of downtown outdoor year round ice climbing popsicles, flatland gondolas, downtown indoor water parks, and velodrome/field houses to the Council and public.

Dave said...

Curm

In the case of scwepke both the product and the package stinks which perhaps makes him a double schlepp!

In Trentleman's case his product is first class, never checked out his tie and pants!

Fred M. Nye said...

The last time I heard someone critcize another's apparel was in Junior High, back in the days when some didn't know enough to not talk down of the way others dressed. I guess I could say I remembered a couple of pre-election outings that this Jennifer broad attended, and wondered silently to myself what kind of fashion statement she was making, but I won't.

As somebody else said a post or two ago, what the hell does the way a person dress have to do with anything substantive?

Neil, you're a dolt!

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