David Caldwell In the News
David Caldwell has a proven track record representing you.
When the Olive Blvd. Transportation Development District failed to deliver on its promises, David was featured standing up for fiscal responsibility in Fox 2′s You Paid For It report by Elliott Davis on November 21, 2010.
Straight ahead on You Paid For It, a dream project in West County becomes a nightmare. Why an Olive Blvd. beautification may cost tax payers $9 million for one mile of work.
A troubled West County beautification project with an ugly price tag for tax payers. We head to Creve Coeur to shine a bright light on this deal in tonight’s You Paid For It.
This beautification project was supposed to transform this stretch of Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur from just a dull, dry road to a shining example of tax dollars at work. Instead officials are stuck trying to regroup and figure out just which way to proceed on this beautification dream that’s turned into a nightmare.
I talked to Creve Coeur Mayor Harold Dielmann. He also sits on the board in charge of the projects.
Elliott Davis: What was the initial budget?
Mayor Dielmann: $5 million
Davis: So what do you anticipate it’s going to cost?
Dielmann: $9 million
Davis voice over: And how much beautification would you now get for that $9 million?
Davis: How many miles of this road are you improving?
Dielmann: Approximately a mile.
Not only will this deal cost almost double what it was supposed to, it’s several years behind schedule. And some of what was promised may not happen. A mile of Olive was supposed to be widened. That may not happen now. The median down the middle of the street is iffy.
Creve Coeur resident David Caldwell says you were supposed to have new lighting all along Olive along with the new sidewalks.
Caldwell: They have torn down streetlights that they have not put in money in the project to replaces.
Davis voice over: Caldwell criticized the plan when it was first rolled off the City Hall drawing board saying it was ill-conceived, ill-planned, and under-funded.
Caldwell: I don’t think they engaged the proper amount of professional input.
The project is funded through an Olive Transportation Development District or TDD. Sales taxes generated from businesses and customers in the area were put into a fund to pay for the beautification. Things went wrong from the get-go. They couldn’t widen the street as planned. That affected the new sidewalk. They found they couldn’t bury the unsightly utility lines after all. And everything ended up costing more than the city thought.
Dielmann: The whole project has changed totally since its begin and that’s why it’s behind schedule and over budget.
Davis: Somebody didn’t do all their homework.
Dielmann: We did our homework, but when you change the rules it changes the project.
Still the mayor is confident the city will eventually be finished with the project- with a lot more time and, of course, a lot more of your money.
Davis: Right now you see it as a failure?
Caldwell: Yes, I see it as a failure.
Davis: You think overall this thing has been a good deal for tax payers?
Dielmann: Yes, they’re going to have a nice road when it’s all done.
Davis: How do you answer critics who say this project has been a disaster?
Dielmann: Well, it hasn’t been a disaster …(cut off)
To have your say here’s the person to call- Creve Coeur Mayor Harold Dielmann- 314-432-6000. Tell him what you think. After all, You Paid For It.
So much to say and so little time to say it- and then it gets edited. That’s a fact, not a complaint. We thank Elliot Davis for covering this matter. He listened to both sides and did his homework. Mayor Dielmann and CCV have plenty of time and opportunity to make their case without being on TV. Mayor Dielmann would like to explain in detail the problems caused by MoDOT and the delays caused by the I-64 shutdown, among other things. And we would have liked to have heard the completion of his explanation why the project was not a disaster, which was cut off in mid-sentence. Probably he would point out a few things which did get done. CCV would like to talk more about the sidewalk to nowhere and the high overhead cost of doing anything via a TDD. Some would like to talk about the timeline and all the political misdeeds of the project, such as the eminent domain threats and anonymous mailers which disrupted the city for months.
Creve Coeur residents deserve complete transparency on the Olive TDD now, as the city officials who sit on the TDD board recently pushed through yet another plan to downsize the project and keep spending money. There is approximately $2 million of the original $5 million which has not been spent. Ward 4 Council Members Laura Bryant and Jeanne Rhoades wrote in the November Creve Coeur Newsletter, Given these recently acknowledged problems, along with the lack of funding and necessary right-of-way, it may be high time to seriously consider an exit strategy for the Olive Blvd. TDD, and look for a way to best utilize the remaining funds, pay off all bonds and then shut it down. CCV agrees. If $3 million has been spent, and spending another $2 million is just a step along the way to spending $9 million- and we will bet anything that it will go higher- is that what Creve Coeur residents want to do to get, as Mayor Dielmann says, a nice road when it is all done?
Be sure to read articles by David Caldwell covering city goverment news at www.crevecoeurvoter.com