Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bait and Switch on Park Central Square?

This is interesting to me and I think it deserves distinction. Today, June 5, 2008, the News-Leader quoted itself from yesterday, June 4, 2008, in its By The Numbers feature:

"The improvements to Park Central Square's sidewalks in Springfield will be paid for with $800,000 in federal highway funds and the city providing $200,000 in matching funds. - Local architects Butler Rosenbury & Partners will be paid $53,700 for the redesign and documents." - News-Leader, June 4

On June 3, 2008, at the City Council luncheon, which took place at Fire Station 12 on Blackman Road, Springfield's Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith said a couple of things:

"...being mindful of our contractual obligation on the Heer's building and the fact that we've generated a lot of interest in having something done to the square through our public involvement process, staff's recommendation is that we re-direct the federal funds to what was initially going to be Phase II, to the perimeter sidewalks, the sidewalks right up against the buildings on the square."

That quote, supports the idea that the federal funds will be used for the perimeter sidewalks, but here's the distinction, as found here (and supported by the tape recording of that Tuesday meeting):

"We will need to engage them (Butler Rosenbury & Partners) to do the construction documents for Phase II. We will owe them some more money, yes, because that was not part of our original contract with them. All of these funds though, in talking with federal highway administration, the money that we spent on Phase I...and this new design money will all count as part of our match to the federal money, you know, the federal money was an 80/20 match, 80 percent federal, 20 percent local...." - Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith, June 3, 2008

I can't say whether it means anything or not that Phase I money, money used to develop the construction plans for the Halprin designed interior of the square, is being counted as part of the city's match to the federal money but I think it might.

The city appears, in my opinion, to be making an effort to separate these phases into distinct projects so that they might keep open the option of using private donation money to make changes to the Halprin designed interior of Park Central Square without consideration of state and federal preservation organizations.

If part of the city's match money, to qualify for the federal grant, involves concept and construction design plans prepared for the redesign of that portion of the overall project, designed by world renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, it may tie that federal money to the overall project, making that option impossible. It would take someone more knowledgeable of the federal grant process than I to sort that out. I just thought it deserved noting.

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