As one of the principles behind the petition that forced the bridge referendum I can state that we truly believed that the city would take a reasonable and principled approach to explaining the whys and wherefores of their decision to proceed without taxpayers say on the pedestrian-pipe bridge (PPB).
I expected deficiency reports on the old bridges condition, cost estimates and comparisons and a cost benefit analysis of all the options. Instead at best the city fathers and the supporters descended into what ended up being little more than a propaganda campaign for the PPB.
The citizens have been bombarded with glossy brochures, misleading statements, another different cost estimate for the PPB and by far the worst action of all; labeling taxpayers with the right of questioning councils action as irresponsible, ignorant and misleading. One councilor even decried our actions as undemocratic and felt we should be denied our right to dissent!
As a member of council in the mid-90s I asked about the old bridge maintenance.
Again I asked further questions in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Each time I was assured that all was well and not to worry. Imagine my surprise when the closed to traffic and pedestrian sign went up! I find it even more amazing that after 20 years or so of giving the old bridge a clean bill of health it is suddenly closed as it is deemed unsafe.
Where are the interim reports of required upcoming maintenance? You don’t inspect something like this and not warn the owner of up and coming problems!
It is, in my opinion irresponsible to let the maintenance of any structure not be done without clear and specific warnings to the owners. So where are these documents?
Secondly, taking no responsibility for ownership of the old bridge tops it all. Again and again the city refuses to take responsibility for a structure it purchased outright!
Any costing of the PPB must take into account the cost of dismantling the old bridge. Any fine and removal cost once it does fall into the river will dwarf a planned removal cost. Why not look at a combined cost of the PBB and bridge removal and then compare it to an old bridge restoration? Only that will put the entire question to rest.
Finally why does the projected cost of the city referendum jump around millions of dollars? The bylaw that was opposed was for $6.5M, now council is asking for $2 million less. With purchasing the airport and slated expenditures there, the library referendum and the overwhelming question of a sewer upgrade costing anywhere from $50 to $100 million I think some very serious and definitive project planning is in order.
In closing I can only state that trying to sell this PPB project by saying there will be no tax increases because of this project is misleading.
The city manager has clearly stated that current spending practices are unsustainable. You can bet there will be tax increases, really big ones!