Shut us up and take our money

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I’m now convinced the Town of Aurora has a gambling addiction.

With all the attention focused on the $1.5 Billion Powerball draw in the US this past week Aurora’s pupils have been dilating over its go-to game, Real Estate.

I’m not trying to draw a comparison between the town’s real estate dealings and popular casino games like poker or blackjack as the town seems totally incapable of playing the long game.

The Town’s approach is more like that of someone soaking up cheap booze and seeking out the roulette table. Waiting, waiting, waiting and then for no reason put all their chips on black.

The majority of the players around the table are the same as last term which jumped at the opportunity to buy the Armoury from the federal government. So fearful that it may be brought up privately they threw over half a Million dollars without realizing it was a federaly contaminated site.

The town hastily crayoned in a figure of $120,000 to remediate the site only to revise that figure last year to be $275,000 of which they were only able to secure $91,500 back from the federal government to fix.

Done without any public consultation the C.A.O. at the time was quoted in the paper as saying staff had an idea of what they wanted to use it for:

“We want to approach the Farmers’ Market to see if there is any interest in having a year-round Farmers’ Market there, get their feedback and see if that facility will work out. If it passes, we will move forward with having some discussions with them.”

This was a roll of the dice that came up snake eyes, as opposed to having a sustainable year-round market the Town has instead subsidized the Market with a $1,000 grant just so they would hold their infrequent indoor markets once a month. More on that in a future post.

Given that the Aurora Farmers’ Market (& Artisan Fair) is part of the “Cultural Round Table” it is strange the town wouldn’t have discussions with them prior to purchasing the contaminated site with the intent for them to operate from.

But less strange when you consider this was the same council of braniacs that considered betting tens of Millions of dollars from its Hydro reserve fund on a fanciful Heritage Disneyland. The only thing that sobered them up was a pricey consultant that told them there was zero private interest.

Even after this potential money pit was shit-canned one councilor remained determined to take it to “the next level” he put forward a motion to buy up the same properties “in bulk’

It was suggested R.O.I. would be found by renting them out, even though the Readman House has not been lived in for over a decade, and another lot identified south of Irwin is vacant.

Thankfully that never happened and instead the Webster House was purchased with a plan to use it as an office, instead of letting it fall apart like the previous owner was doing.

Even though this private purchase proves that the town does not need to acquire property to “maximize the development opportunity for the purpose of revitalization” the addiction is so strong at this point that it is so easily triggered. Even if there was a New Years resolution to curb its gambling it appears that no time was wasted in breaking it when you read this public notice:

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The notice is so patheticaly void it justifies the intent to aquire the land for municipal purposes. When The Auroran investigated further in their article from January 13th  contacting the Manager of Long Range and Strategic Planning listed in the notice here is the response they received:

“In terms of specific purposes, I don’t really have much to say in that regard. The Cultural Precinct certainly does have some thoughts around that, but I can’t necessarily say this is a direct result of that or not. It is still a potential acquisition.”

WTF?

How is it the town’s Manager of Long Range and Strategic Planning doesn’t have much to say about the purposes the Town has for this significant acquisition?

And how can the same manager not clarify if this acquisition is or is not a direct result of the Cultural Precinct initiative?

The Cultural Precinct is definitely a Long Range and Strategic planning process, this should be a yes or no question.

Perhaps what is styming such a simple answer is due to the timing.

The Cultural Precinct was extended into 2016 with an increase of $22,000 approved recently:

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Feedback is still being encouraged via the town’s website until January 18th:

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I’m 100% in support of the town soliciting feedback and factoring it into its decision making.  I’m even in favor of the town acquiring parcels of the land identified in their notice as they are the same ones I proposed be used to resolve the traffic flow and parking issues in the area of library square in this April 2015 post.

What I am not in support of is this notice coming out of nowhere.  Why would the town even bothering continuing with public participation if it is going to have no direct result?

If the town is at a loss for words about its long range and strategic plans then it is safe to say the entire exercise of the Cultural Precinct has devolved into little more than a Cultural Hoodwink.

 

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