WE GOT THIS STORY OF BLATANT ABUSE OF URBAN RENEWAL FUNDING FROM THE CALDWELL GUARDIAN. LOOKS LIKE THE NEW COLLEGE OF WESTERN IDAHO NEEDS TO DO MORE THAN BUY ADVERTISING.
By Paul Alldredge
Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency board approved a draft resolution to “loan” $297,700 to TVCC this past week. The “loan” will be interest free and the repayment details very sketchy.
Under terms of the resolution, money from the loan will go to remodel the Mercado building and other upgrades for the benefit for the Oregon based community college. The money will be a stop-gap effort at best. What is really confusing here is the actual site for a 60,000 square foot building was supposed to be in the Sky Ranch business park. Mayor Nancolas jerked the rug out from under this effort in his state of the city address this year. He unilaterally moved the site to downtown in the catalyst project/city hall effort. None of this has been requested nor approved by the citizens of Caldwell. Mayor Nancolas indicated he would seek voter approval for this project. To date no election of any kinds has been offer up for voter oversight.
What we have now is Mayor Nancolas, Finance Director Eljay Waite, Councilor Rob Hopper, and Urban Renewal Board members Leona Fouts and Amy Rojas moving forward with a 30,000 square foot structure three stories high on Blaine Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. The intent is for the Veterans Outpatient Clinic to occupy the ground floor and TVCC the upper floors. Not enough room per previous requests from TVCC for classroom space and no site yet slected by the VA on bid packages submitted.
This effort is now the new and improved “catalyst project” for downtown Caldwell. The cost will be in the $6-10 million dollar range and no voter approvals or oversight for this project. It is yet another move by Urban Renewal to lock out voters on millions of dollars on a project nobody wants nor have they asked for in our downtown area. It is the actions of five people deciding what is good for the rest of us.
Why is Caldwell Urban Renewal supporting an out of state college with Caldwell property taxpayer dollars. Why aren’t we allowed to vote this up or down with a proper vote of the people. It is a blatant case of Idaho Urban Renewal Law being abused to the fullest extent possible. (See CEURA Resolution 2009-2)
We are not seeing economic development in downtown Caldwell with this project. What we are getting is more property removed from the tax rolls, a duplication of what is already offered by College of Western Idaho, and more property taxes heaped on the taxpayers of Caldwell. The City of Caldwell will be going into the landlord business locking out private development. The need for this project simply has not been demonstrated beyond those on the urban renewal board declaring it so.
It would make far more sense to support voter approved College of Western Idaho with our scarce property tax dollars.
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