After looking at this huge list, I have chosen projects that come to $951,140. Your first thought may be the total sum is ridiculous since there is only $623,537.23 available; but also understand that the CPC is not obligated to give the full amount requested by a project and so it is more important to prioritize them rather than to fully fund them. Besides, they are supposed to be able to prove they will have matching funds.
Here is the list in order of their appearance before the CPC.
Some projects I might add would normally get approval by the typical CPA standards during happier times – you know – back when we didn’t have bond payments and when we had 100% matching from the state. The following list should be rejected not because they are ineligible but because of lacking priority. Nevertheless, I have the following reasons why they should be knocked down the line:
Clipper City Rail Trail Phase II
Everyone knows I am an enthusiastic supporter and cheered when the City Councilors budgeted out of free cash, the final amount for design to get the whole bowl of wax going. But this is just extra gravy – I still feel we wasted money with all those stairs (that hardly anyone uses) on Phase I. I hope we don’t see a forest of them on Phase II!
Historic Landscape Preservation, Phase III
I cheer the exterior preservation of our churches but how many times do we let them come back to the faucet when there are so many other projects with greater needs? Let’s cut them off before we become aiders and abettors to their financial addiction.
Belleville Congregational Church Restoration
Same as above, perhaps a few bucks to help them along with concerts but there are some big demands this year that take greater priority.
Congregation Ahavas Achim Infrastructure Work
In a happier time, this would be approved but should be refused. One, they have come before already, and Two, much of the work borders on interior and/or maintenance. Give some other churches in town a chance!
Range Lights Community Sculpture Garden
Gardening? Landscaping? Art pieces? Sorry, there are other funding vehicles for paying for this. Newburyport Art Association is a 501(c)3 organization. Go for it through some other grant.
Other projects are frankly either maintenance projects, improvement projects, rehab projects or, worse; these should have been added to the Mayor’s proposed budget for City Council to debate. They represent taking the financially easier and lazier course:
Waterfront Park/Central Waterfront Enhancement Project
Everyone knows I am an enthusiastic supporter of more parks, but this is not the case here. There is no ‘purchasing’ of park land; but rather doing due diligence that should have been done in the first place! So where has all this parking money gone? Yet another study that has gone no where?
Replacement of Trees at the Firehouse
In a happier, richer time; this would have been fine. But frankly, this belongs on the Park Commission budget, vetted through the City Council. This is just maintenance bordering on capital improvement based on putting in a better type of tree.
Bradley Fuller Athletic Complex Improvement and Expansion
“Do it for the children” will be the political cry, but frankly this is a maintenance project disguised as a capital expense. Sorry, maybe some other year.
Cherry Hill Parcel B Soccer Field Improvement
Newburyport High School Exterior Woodwork Restoration
If capital projects could improve a child’s education, this still would be really stretching it. It’s time to drop the above catch-all phrase and turn this one down. Besides, this is a second time at the faucet. Looks like more addiction!
Cushing House Fence
Fences are basically a maintenance issue – and frankly are right on the border of being infrastructure – maybe next year.
Newburyport Housing Rehabilitation Program
The title says it all – are we purchasing new affordable housing units? Are we converting a deplorable building so it can used for affordable housing units? Sorry, rehab does not help – I don’t think our tax money should go for fancy new kitchen cabinets, counters and dishwashers!
Kelleher Park Family Housing Development
This is the City of Newburyport in disguise – and no, this should be a city budget allotment for maintenance and rehab work. Another attempt to bypass the City Council.
There is one on this list which is frankly incredible:
Yankee Homecoming Project
This bid frankly violates the infrastructure use of CPA money. Where is the lasting ramifications on the infrastructure? Besides, by the time this money would be approved, Yankee Homecoming 2015 would have been long gone! CPA money usually after a long process of vetting, is issued in September-October!
In my next post, I will list with reasons, those projects that should survive.
I realize that politically, some projects I reject will survive; but in a perfect world where reason and public benefit are a priority, they shouldn’t. Perhaps, the CPC will mitigate such foolishness by throwing them tiny financial bones.
At least I hope!