The politicians locally and nationwide would do well to “Remember University Place”. The recent City Council elections pitted three incumbent council members that had been on the Council since incorporation against some new names from the community. Each of the Council members had great name recognition, an overall record of having made the City a great place to live and only one mistake on their record of successes. That mistake was in accepting and continuing the poor stewardship of the taxpayers dollars to construct the Town Center project. A project which was originally conceived to provide upper-end retail and mixed use residential has yet to sign-up its first non-government tenant. The Council initially approved the buying up of all property on the east side of Bridgeport (from 35th to 38th) that wasn’t already owned by the City, including the destruction of a wonderful, almost new library. So far the City, as property manager, has booked itself into the new structure, and we will finally be getting our library back. Other than that, there will be a (government supported) Park and Ride garage which was purchased with federal, state and local tax dollars, the UP Police Department wants a corner of the building to give them more space. Note that all of these uses are government uses…uses that do not pay taxes on their facilities. The original idea of Town Center was to provide places to shop to achieve critical mass to bring in shoppers to a walkable shopping, and living, district in “Downtown” UP. And by the way, it would generate tax revenue through property taxes and sales taxes. But so far no non-government tenants for Town Center have been announced.
I started here by saying that politicians should “Remember University Place”. Two of the three long-time incumbent Council members were voted out of office. The third was retained but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had he been opposed by a more qualified candidate who actually wanted and campaigned for the position. These results were almost assuredly due only to the Town Center fiasco. The Council members had given us a lovely City to live in and play in. Poor stewardship of the tax dollars the taxpayers sent to the City was their only failing. All politicians should sit up and take notice of this. We have an economy that is very sick and the only thing being done is throwing more tax dollars at the problem. That, Politicians, is poor stewardship of the tax dollars that come out of our hard earned paychecks (at least for those who still have paychecks). Politicians who continue to vote to overspend more of our tax dollars should, indeed, be wary of the ballot box the next time they are on the ballot. And by the way, the Council members who were NOT on the ballot this year should not get the mistaken idea that they will not be accountable for poor stewardship of our taxes…their time is about to come too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that taxpayers/voters have short memories, they will have a huge reminder sitting on Bridgeport.