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The Salamander Returns!
Several weeks ago Raytown Times' columnist Bob Phillips, carried an update about the once proposed Downtown Raytown Walmart store.
In the main, Bob's column consisted of excerpts of a letter he had received from Ward 4 City Councilman Bill VanBuskirk.
To say the least Alderman from Ward 4 did not hold back. No mealy-mouthing. He let all hang out.
Here are a few quotes (as he spoke of those who opposed the Store):
"A handful of people raising hell about the store."
"Some people opposed initially were grossly and purposely misinformed."
"Most of them changed their minds when they were told the truth."
"There were so many lies out there clouding the issue."
Calling residents, some of whom may have even voted for you, names like stupid, misinformed, and liars, etc., is not very “Councilmanish".
As your Salamander sees it, the real concern is that anyone, especially a majority of the City Council. would be so tunnel-visioned that most of them voted to approve the deal at all.
Bill VanBuskirk's rage is misdirected. He obviously has a very short and selective memory.
He apparently has forgotten all the promises made -- then broken -- when the City Council voted the Give-Away of the Decade -- the Highway 350 Walmart.
VanBuskirk and others on the council should be reminded how we were promised, once Walmart 350 opened its doors, that it would set off a "gold Rush" of other businesses, restaurants, etc., fighting to get in on the best deal in the history of western Missouri.
The tax base would literally solve all the city's problems.
The exact opposite has happened.
The area targeted for growth on 350 Highway store is a vast economic wasteland. The tax base was there but so was a little problem. All of the sales tax generated at Walmart goes to pay for the debt to create construction of the shopping complex. The city does not get one penny of it and will not share in this "flood of revenue" for more than two decades.
A more graphic representation of how monumentally large this economic disaster is evident just south of the Walmart Store. That large vacant lot, just to the East of the now vacant YMCA, was promised to be Phase 2 of the 350 development.
The foregoing is what happened with the 350 Deal. Why on earth anyone would think it would end up any different with another store located in Downtown Raytown?
If being located by a Walmart is so advantageous why hasn't anyone moved in?
After all, there is plenty of space available.
No. Mr. VanBuskirk. don’t take your angst out on the good people of Raytown. They have been there and done that. The difference between you and the people of Raytown is that they learned from the experience and became that much wiser.
Apparently, you did not.
|BY GREG WALTERS|
Downtown Raytown Development
Last week I sent a letter to Raytown’s Economic Development Director, Tom Cole, requesting information about the plans to develop the area known as the Green Space in Downtown Raytown. The Raytown City Council recently chose Flaherty and Collins as the developer for the project. Following is a copy of my letter to Mr. Cole and his response.
Can you share with me any information of the financial package and tenants (if any) expected for the Green Space in Downtown Raytown?
There have been some claims made that the city intends to:
Give the land to the developer without charge. Is that a true statement?
An undetermined amount of 353 funding. I am interested in the nuts and bolts on this one. Specifically how such funding would work. Actual cost and value of the funding. The timeline and any hurdles -- does it require a vote of any public body other than the Board of Alderman for approval.
There are rumors out there. I would like to shed some light on what exactly is happening.
As always, thanks for reaching out to me.
At this point, my answers haven’t changed from the last time you asked. The development process is lengthy, but I believe Flaherty & Collins will deliver a full/final proposal demonstrating all of the development costs (construction, design, engineering, etc) near the end of the first quarter of 2014. Once those numbers have been established, I also anticipate having a full understanding of the finances they bring to the table in addition to the remaining gap that they would request the City to assist in filling. This is typical of most large development projects.
We met with them last week and they are beginning to complete their due diligence on the property. I also anticipate that our Joint Review Committee (Planning, Zoning, Codes, Public Works, Fire, etc) will meet with their team in the coming weeks to assure all parties understand the design guidelines and the process for developing in downtown Raytown.
In regard to incentives and rumors…at this point, we simply don’t know as we have yet to receive the real economics of the project. Regardless, an evaluation of the incentives and the cost/benefit to the City for the project will be completed by a third party (unbiased) source once all of the data has been received. The third party will likely either be Integra Realty Resources or Springsted. They will do a thorough analysis and if there is not a tangible benefit to the City, we will either encourage the developer to reconfigure the project in a manner that is more beneficial to the City or simply dismiss the project all together.
In the Request for Proposal, we identified a number of incentives that are available under Missouri State Statutes. Among them were Community Improvement Districts, Tax Increment Financing (the project area is within an existing, but unactivated TIF area), Chapter 353 and perhaps, if warranted, donation of the property. It is critical to note that NONE of those items are guaranteed and that the Board of Aldermen has the ability to deny/dismiss any or all of them.
Again, until we know the values and economics of the project, the incentives really hold no value at this time.
You specifically asked about the workings of Chapter 353…if utilized in this case, the developer would pay property taxes on the real property value (the land), but not on the improvements to the property (the new construction) for a period of 10-25 years depending on the total investment. The project area is also within a Chapter 353 designated area that I believe was approved in 2006/7.
I cannot stress enough that none of this is solidified or even in current negotiation. The City HAS NOT offered a financial proposal to the developer and we will not offer a proposal to the developer until/unless we receive a full understanding of the economics of the proposed development. In the event a positive cost benefit is returned, and a third party deems it appropriate and positive to assist in filling a “financial gap,” I am only interested in assisting with the gap and not an excessive outlay of funds for an unnecessary duration.
Basically, I want to see a real shift in the economics and appeal of our downtown and the project before us has the potential to do that…of course, it all comes down to economics and we’re waiting for the numbers to be presented.
In regard to tenants, there currently are none as any potential tenant would also want to fully understand the economics of the development prior to expressing any level of interest. I know there is concern in the community that Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market may come back. Flaherty-Collins has never completed a project with Wal-Mart and they do not have a relationship with Wal-Mart. I suppose stranger things have happened, but I would be quite surprised if the Neighborhood Market expressed any level of interest in again pursuing the same property.
If you have additional questions, please ask.
Thomas A. Cole, CEcD
Economic Development Administrator
Chris Rathbone for Charter Commission
My name is Chris Rathbone. I first moved to Raytown with my family in 2007. My children have attended Raytown Schools since pre-kindergarten, my wife and I have been on their school PTA boards, and my wife is now serving on the Raytown PTA council. A couple of years ago we bought our first home together in Raytown. I had recently finished 12 years of service in the United States Army after serving for a year in Iraq
Shortly after purchasing our home, I discovered that Raytown was a 4th class city under Missouri rules. Being a 4th class city, Raytown must be run the way Missouri law states. We as residents, have little voice in Raytown matters. Any changes to the way Raytown is run must go thru the Missouri Legislature for permission. The rules for a 4'th class city in Missouri are set up for cities with less than 3,000 residents. Raytown now has a population of around 30,000.
After speaking with quite a few residents about issues they had with the city, I thought that now would be a good time to get the ball rolling again to try and make Raytown a Charter City. I started meeting with some friends and spoke to people who were on the Charter Commission the last time this was tried. We got together and came up with a petition which we circulated and got the required number of signatures. I presented the petition to the City at the Board of Aldermen meeting on June 4, 2013.
As a new homeowner here, I have a vested interest in the future of this great little city. It is centrally located to just about everything in the metro area, but as great as it is, I think it could be much better.
I am asking you to vote yes on April 8'th to form a Charter Commission and to vote for me to serve on its board.
I don't think we need to re-invent the wheel with a new Charter. I think the less changes we make to how the city is run, the better the chances it will pass, however, there are a few things that a lot of people I have spoken with would really like to see happen, and I personally agree with them.
If elected, I would push for the citizens of Raytown to have the power to petition for initiative, referrendum, and possibly recall. The hard decision with that will be where to set the thresholds for the number of signatures required. There would need to be provisions for Charter amendments in the future. I also think that there needs to be discussion about city leaders not living in Raytown.
I have also talked to some people that are worried that if we change very much at all, this charter will not pass. I disagree somewhat with that. The Charter Commission could write a "simple" charter with very little change to the way the city runs now, but also put changes on the ballot as parts to be voted on seperately. That way, the simple charter could be easily passed, and we let the citizens decide what changes, if any, that they want. I think this is the safest way to ensure that we are not all wasting our time on this, and also empower voters to have a part in drafting the Charter.
I don't know how this is going to turn out. It all depends on who is elected to the Charter Commission, and what they can agree on. If elected, I will only be one voice out of 13. Everyone running has their own ideas of what they want in the Charter. We need people who will listen to what the citizens of Raytown want in this Charter and vote accordingly. That is what I promise to do.
I welcome any suggestions, or questions you have of me.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on my Facebook page: "Chris Rathbone for Raytown Charter Commission" at https://www.facebook.com/crathbone78,
I would very much appreciate your support on April 8'th. Thank you.
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