HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Hearing coming up on riverfront method

Written May 6th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

The waterfront project includes new pedestrian crossings of the tracks, including here at Water and Montgomery.

Albany’s long-planned Waterfront Project comes up for a public hearing next week, not on the merits of the project itself but on the method of getting it built.

Acting as the Albany Revitalization Agency (ARA), the city council will hold the hearing Wednesday night, May 11, after the conclusion of the regular city council meeting at City Hall. Instructions on how to testify in person or remotely are included with the agenda, available here.

The hearing is necessary because the city wants an exemption from regular bidding requirements in order to have the riverfront redevelopment done by a method called “construction manager/general contractor” or “CM/GC.”

Last month the council/ARA rejected four bids, including the low bid by an Albany contractor at $2.4 million, for the first phase of the project. The city staff had recommended this step, citing possible supply-line delays for materials that would likely push the work into 2023, when the second and bigger phase of construction is anticipated to be done.

Under the proposed alternative approach, Albany would request proposals from companies and hire one to oversee the total project, both phases 1 and 2, as construction manager. The manager would review the project for savings and “constructibility,” among other things, and then get bids for the construction. The city could cancel the contract after the “pre-construction phase.”

The overall project, in the planning stages since 2018, calls for changes in Monteith Riverpark and along Water Avenue and the Dave Clark Path from the park to the railroad trestle. The budget is $15 million in urban renewal funds from the ARA and another $1.2 million for replacing a water line.

Councilman Dick Olsen has expressed reservations about going ahead with the riverfront work. He thinks CARA, the city’s urban renewal district, would do more good by spending its remaining funds in other ways, such as helping owners fix up buildings downtown.

He has not, however, persuaded a majority of the council. The hearing on the contracting method may give him a chance to try again. (hh)

This city illustration shows the outline and extent of the planned riverfront work.





10 responses to “Hearing coming up on riverfront method”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Method Schmethod. The financing needs to be debated.

    CARA uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF). It’s a borrow now and pay later scheme.

    It’s based on the theory that a project will incrementally increase tax collections of the improved property and the surrounding properties by some future amount.

    For projects involving private land/buildings, estimating the future increment should be easy. Crony capitalism is involved in the process, but I digress.

    For projects like this one involving public land/buildings, estimating the increment requires smoke and mirrors. These type of projects do not cause a direct, quantifiable incremental increase in tax collections. Justification requires creative manipulation, a CARA specialty.

    And TIF at its core involves a crystal ball – it relies on a prediction that the property tax base wouldn’t go up as much in future years without the CARA “investment.”

    So…due diligence demands that CARA provide answers to these two questions:

    1. For this project, what is the estimate of the incremental tax revenue increase that will be generated? Please show your numbers and methods.

    2. What information was used to conclude that the private marketplace wouldn’t have achieved this incremental tax revenue increase on its own?

    Holding your breath while waiting for answers may be fatal, however.

    • Bob Woods says:

      Hey Gordon, take a vacation. Try somewhere new this summer.

      Maybe Afghanistan?

      I think you and the Taliban would get along just fine.

      Always telling everyone how they need to act.

      • MarK says:

        I’ll second that. You don’t live here, so nobody cares what you think.

  2. CHEZZ says:

    It is my understanding that the current phases cannot begin due to the high cost of several materials. I hope they can change the Phases so some of the amenities can be addressed where materials are available and can be obtained to start our Riverfront Project.

  3. James Engel says:

    Can someone explain to me WHY we need a concrete riverbank!!?? Folks, it’s not the same as the Rivera! A sad ‘Ole river going by a sad ‘Ole river bank. Improve the street maybe but don’t bother with the lipstick on a pig!

  4. NEAL ALAN RAYMOND says:

    how do you make water front look nice when theres a railroad running down the middle of it not that it wouldnt be nice to get something done. i just dont see how its been talked about for years unless you get rid of the RR just not seeing it

    • Bob Woods says:

      The railroad have protections form the1800’s that no one else gets. On the other hand, the amount of traffic on that line is low, as I remember it.

      Here is the rule of thumb for power in America:

      1) God
      2 The Railroads
      3) The Constitution

      • centrist says:

        Bob
        The old barons of railroading might dispute second place. Impression is that they behaved as #1s who felt no need to answer to others.

        • Bob Woods says:

          Centro:

          They still do because of their legal protections.

          Congress can change it. I think requiring all railroads to require mainlines be able to accommodate 300 MPH trains or lose all protections by 2035 would spur them to investment.

          True high-speed trains will make them many billions…

          • Al Nyman says:

            Why do liberals continue to live in dreamland. It would cost trillions of dollars to upgrade the rail lines to carry the bullet trains I’ve rode on in Europe. In case you haven’t noticed Bob, the rail lines running through Albany and the rest of the US are 19th century technology. The last I looked the estimate to build 500 miles of high speed rail between LA and SF was at 105 billion and climbing plus you would have to shutdown the current rail system to rebuild unless you can get Elon Musk to build you thousands of miles of tunnels.

 

 
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