Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Downtown TIF District Should Pay For Monterey Dam
Here's a story making the local rounds. Apparently, somebody (a city council member no less) had the audacity to raise awareness and challenge an advisory committee's expected recommendation to dismantle and remove the Monterey Dam from the Rock River. The council member is concerned that members of the committee are not considering every option available to save the dam. He's right up to a point.
As the story goes, in early-2015, a dam repair company was hired by the city to issue an opinion and detailed report on the failing dam. A repair project was recommended and set out for bid. The city council eventually rejected those bids because the costs were more than double what was anticipated.
Now almost two years later, a dam removal company is hired to issue an opinion on the dam and a detailed report for removing the dam including flow way restoration. The company recommends removing the dam and the removal project is now recommended by committee for final council approval and bidding. Some locals claim the company is biased for bidding on a project that would not exist without their recommendation in the first place. However, both the dam removal and the earlier repair company were commissioned by the city and are doing exactly what they were hired to do at the time. There is no bias or impropriety on their part.
The only bias occurring however is from city hall operators and their enablers covering for leadership that failed to address all options in early 2015 as they are doing yet again today. The city council was right in 2015 to reject the bids, but not because of cost as the story goes. But because the administration failed to present other options side-by-side, mainly dam removal, in a timely fashion. Now, with two more years of wear and tear on the aging dam, a new report with updated bids for repair would likely show to be even more cost prohibitive.
This is why, given the circumstances and public outpouring to save the dam, I suggest building a new dam with the new downtown TIF District surplus fund paying the full tab.
You might ask, why should the TIF District pay for the dam?
Because the Rock River is not just a side order, it is the main course expected to attract re-investment into Janesville's downtown. Without water, there is no river. If say, removing a dam downstream would cause the river to be reduced to a babbling brook with 200 foot long mudflats, property values would plummet and so would the expected increase in downtown economic activity. So, maintaining stable river levels is crucial to downtown's appearance and redevelopment.
Granted, the river is not expected to drop down to babbling brook levels through the downtown district with the dam removed, expectations are for only a 5 to 12 inch drop through downtown.
But for a city hall operation making a serious effort to turn downtown investor eyes toward the river and priding itself in centralized control over every aspect of the local economy, it seems odd they would abandon the control valve for a significant portion of the river running through their most prized real estate.
In a nutshell, the Monterey Dam IS a public infrastructure downtown enhancement project. Because a portion of the river (upstream) impounded by the dam runs through the Downtown TIF District, TIF surplus money should be earmarked to pay for the entire project.
NOTE: This blog generally supports the removal of dams to restore navigation and natural habitat. The above suggestion is presented merely to show that more options for funding the dam's removal, replacement or repair are available.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 12:04 AM