$54 million to rebuild Riverfront Blvd.? Flush twice.

Ok, Ok, I know some of you are sick of me railing on about the Trinity. But I just can’t help myself — that deal was a turkey, and every time someone pulls the carcass out of the refrigerator to take another nibble, I get that nauseated feeling all over again.

The latest offender: The DMN story talking about the city’s big plans to rebuilt Riverfront Boulevard, which in its original incarnation was called Industrial Boulevard until some of the guys Downtown thought that calling it Riverfront might make the area more appealing to the developers who were going to build around the Trinity Tollway. Even with the Tollway now on the rocks financially, and perhaps permanently, and even with the city sucking budget wind last year, this year, next year and for another few years (see the recent county property value drops stories), somehow many of our city leaders still see the pressing need to spend what the News reports is $54.5 million rebuilding and dressing up Riverfront.

The area has a beautiful view of Downtown, no doubt, and that view is best seen from the front porch of the county jail, which is probably the area’s largest employer, tax generator and tourist attraction. Bail bonds shops naturally line the street, and more than a few downtrodden souls can be spotted walking to and fro in the vicinity, too. That’s why when the executive director of the Mixmaster Business Association (who knew there was a bustling business organization there?) says “it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add walking paths and landscaping along the jail, along with new shops and restaurants” sounds a little like a pipe dream to me, at least during most of our lifetimes.

There are a lot of places in our neighborhood that could use $54.5 million worth of “rebuilding and dressing up,” and I have to think that with the Tollway in question, maybe we should be considering spending this money on neighborhoods that actually already are neighborhoods; the return of tax dollars might be a little more accelerated that way. Of course, this won’t do much for all of the speculators who bought land along Riverfront when the politicos Downtown promised them a Tollway and all of the attendant economic benefits, but that’s just part of real estate development. You win some, you lose some, and the city doesn’t need to be bailing these guys out with more of our tax money.

And one more note, this one a little more ominous: Trinity kingpin and councilman Dave Neumann told the News that “I would hope that the property owners would be a part of this stakeholder process, looking at what Riverfront Boulevard could be vs. what it is now.”

Hmmm. If the property owners don’t want to be a “part” of this exciting process, is Neumann suggesting that the city might shoot first and ask questions later?


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