Sunday, October 24, 2010

Worth $7,000 A Foot, I Think So

I have become a bit more disappointed with Mr. Gray and his campaign tactics. He now is attacking one of Lexington’s best accomplishments in years. It is not because of the massive acclaim about how good it looks or the increased business opportunities that it has allowed, rather it is the final cost. His claim is that it cost approximately $7,000 a linear foot and well over the estimated bid price.

Anybody in the construction business knows that there is always a chance of cost overruns in any project and the older the original construction the more chance of unexpected behind-the-scenes problems. South Limestone was full of unexpected problems and most of them were from lack of repair for many years.

The advertised claim is that a “political supporter” of Newberry’s received the contract while being the high bidder. It is made to appear that cronyism is rampant yet the work was done within the specified time despite numerous extras and a constantly hostile blogosphere/press. I would hate to see the results had someone like JPC, who had many problems with the concrete work on Vine St, done the work. The Vine St work was poured poorly, more than once being poured and taken out the next day due to mistakes, to the point that it was said that the acronym mane stood for “just playing in concrete”. Such problems along S Lime were rare.

Also alluded to, is the belief that several South Lime businesses went broke (or out of business) and more than one did leave the street. The tattoo shop from the corner of Maxwell and Lime is now at S. Broadway and Bolivar(soon to be Oliver Lewis Way) and right next door to a relocated Tolly-Ho, which should begin to anchor a revitalized business section of Broadway. The prospects of increased activity an Lime, as well as Vine and Main are beginning to show themselves.

I terms of awarding the initial contract, I believe that it was the action of the Council and not the mayor alone who okayed the price. It may have been over the protests of Mr. Gray and others but that is how our democratic process works, a majority rules. Should Mr. Gray have built his spirit of cooperativeness during the previous 3 ½ years and included more the other council members, I feel that he could have easily had more influence over the awarding of development related contracts. That is where his expertise lies, is it not?

Speaking of his expertise, development, construction and design, just where is he leading this council, as Vice Mayor, along those lines? He was on the Infill and Redevelopment committee and has not attended many meeting since it became bogged down in some of the minutia of details. He participated with the DDA on the Downtown Master Plan and yet some of the major parts like design guidelines and form based codes are lacking from being created. How is the experience of his “family’s business” being used to help the City of Lexington so far?

It is almost always said that the mayor is the leader of the city, but the charter places the policy decisions squarely in the lap of the Urban County Council. The Mayor is in charge of seeing that the policy is carried out. Just about all ordinances begin with the phrase “the council authorizes and directs to Mayor to…” and while the mayor may propose many initiatives, it is the Council who decides what the policy should be. The leading force of that council should, by right, be the at-large candidate with the most votes in the most recent election and is named the Vice Mayor. That mantle currently rests on Mr. Gray’s shoulders, yet we see none of his policy desires being brought to the fore nor enacted. Can somebody tell me why?

I am not a huge Newberry fan, nor an I encouraged by many of the other current council members, but Gray is as much an “unknown quantity” now as he was eight years ago when he first ran.

I think that I will stay with the devil I know.

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