June 21, 2007

Final Decision--No Decision

Hate to say this, not really, I was right again. The current agreement will be extended 6 months, here is the story, note the head-line "Bail-out" and the "torturous drive" comment--not exactly positive PR for ORH.

Right now the airport is costing us (the tax-payers of Worcester) 90,000 per month based on the numbers from the first 9 months of this fiscal year. In other words this 6 months extension could cost the tax-payers of Worcester $540,000!!!

We had three years (length of the current agreement) to work on this and now we need another 6 months at $540,000? If this is the path that we have chosen then lets put the airport out for sale to anyone and everyone , invite companies like National Express or anyone else to ORH.

Sorry, but I can say anything good about this when I actually thought the future would be changing for the better on July 1st. Now we are looking at another 6 months where nothing will happen at a cost to the tax-payers of Worcester of over a half million dollars by not being able to come up with something, anything, the past three years.

I can not wait to read Mr Nemeth's column this Sunday.

20 comments:

tim macdonald said...

Another six months!! It is the last thing I wanted to see, it gives the impression that nothing has happened or will happen this year.

I wish I knew what the real issues were behind ORH.

I sometimes wish I didn't even care about ORH!

Bill Randell said...

Tim:

The more I think about it, this is the worse thing that could have happened. First the peak season for travel is the winter season and no airline will commit to ORH not knowing what the future mgmt will be at ORH. In other words it will be difficult to get any airline here for this winter season.

Secondly the cost. We will be paying the entire debt service and 32% of the operating deficit. This is alot of money and based on the numbers the first 9 months of this fiscal year, it comes to 90,000 per month or 540,0000 over 6 months.

Not sure what will change the next six months, that we had not already known the past three years.

Bill

Jahn said...

I know many city projects/undertakings are massive deals and with politicing involved they can be held up forever it seems.

Last June were were told City Sq demo would begin in winter....then in fall were told it would be March.......we are now 3 months beyond March.

Union Station buildout, infrastructure & parking garage are years behind.

City Hall council chambers rebuuild is 1/2 complete and now on hold.

Then when we do get around to finally breaking ground on anything, its cost has doubled.

Reality is... it is fair to say that we cannot properly manage our city infrastructure and assets, nor can we manaage our finances?

It will July 1, 2008 before Massport is on board. The city manger is going to have to spend the next 6 months just watching the checkbook everyday.

The projected $5M deficit is now more like $6M due to airport deficit having to be added to it for at least 6 months and prb mor elike a year. Then add in another 2.5M to the origianl $5M b/c the council will not address the deficit until after the election, at which time it will balloon by 50% to $8M.

Would anyone here run their bizz or household like this and then go out and throw block parties as the ship is sinking?

Some will call me negative, but it's hard to dispute the scenarios in front of us.

Bill Randell said...

Jahn:

Some will call you negative and I got to say you sometimes do look at the glass more as half empty then as half full.

I agree, however, with many of your points here. As you know the airport is particularly bothersome to me. Not do anything when we knew for three years this day was coming simply makes no sense.

jahn said...

Bill, I sometimes wonder if the we are biting off more than we can chew in terms of building projects.....which projects sometimes require debt service 20 & 30 yrs into the future.

Maybe take em one at time.....fimish one move on to the next. Can you imagine what the manaager's job must be like just running around putting brushfires all day and at the same time trying to make forward progress?

FWIW , i do perceive the city to be doing at least OK, maybe even better than most. for an old milltown, we're far ahead of other mid sized urban areas in new england and have fewer probs that many of them do..................however I truly feel our financial house is not in order. Whats happens in fiscal 2008, for example, when property revenues come in less than expected b/c of all the foreclosures? Granted we'll get the money eventually when the property re sells...........but?????? what do we do in the interim

Anonymous said...

Bill wrote:
"Hate to say this, not really, I was right again"

Yup. You were right. I was wrong. I tip my hat to you.

- CF

Bill Randell said...

Charley Farley:

For what it is worth, this is the one time I wish I was truly wrong. I was hoping for a long-term lease a nominal amount with MassPort pick up the entire deficits both operating and non-operating (debt service).

Not only did we not get this but it looks like we will still be paying the non-operating bills like debt service which runs 600,000 to 700,000 per year.

Anonymous said...

Do we have a contingency plan if we cant come to an agreement with Massport? All good managers have a back up plan if and when their keys players get injured. what's in the bullpen if Massport takes a hike

Bill Randell said...

Anonymous:

That has been my point for months, we should be doing a nationwide "Airport For Sale" campaign, bringing in the investment bankers like Councilor Irish has suggested, invited National Express to ORH, etc!!!! Why not invite the management for the airports that run Providence, Manchester or Harttford to ORH?

There is no contingency plan. All of our eggs are in the MassPort basket.

Jahn said...

City Sq seems to be signing up tenants, includng tenants like the registry of deeds, CVS, Subway, Quinsig CC & YMCA satellites. More are coming down the pike, per T&G.

Hoepfully the grapples arent too far behind.

These tenants are reported to be a "key element of efforts to make Worc's downtown a lively, 18 hour -a -day venue....." HUH !!!

Seems to me we had a CVS and sandwich/pizza places there before as the Common Outlets floundered for a decade. We already have a Y'W'CA 100 yards away as the Outlets floundered. A satellite community college we didnt have.

I just cannot fathom how these tenants are going to turn downtown (City Sq) into an 18 hour a day venue, but then agian I am not an urban planner. I know City Sq has to move ahead, but where are the plans for the market rate residences that have been touted as the cure for what ails downtown?

Anonymous said...

Quinsigamond college has been there since 2002. The city recruited them to the mall at that time from another location. I have taught there.

Jahn said...

Thank you, i didnt remember that QCC already has(had?)a presence there

I think that further bolsters my point that we're having a re-hash of old tenants (except registry of deeds)...so what exactly has changed that's going to re - make the area in an 18 hr-a-day venue? Registry deeds is a 9-5 operation. I guess we did run the porn outta the area...which is great.

The critical mass nec. to have an 18 hr downtown is market rate housing. Where's the market rate housing part of the plan.....over at the old Burwick Furniture? I tend to doubt it plus it's too far away ?????

Anonymous said...

The economy has changed dramatially since City Sq. was conceived in early 2004. Market Rate housing is not as possible now. Besides, they need a large tenant first. Businesses are not expanding either! The City Mgr. has a tough road to hoe here. I'm sure he is working hard at it, but the economy is the economy.

Jahn said...

Anonymous, if this housing bust lasts 9 yrs like the last one ( 1989 - 1998), then City Sq housing build out may not come until 2015??

Let us also not foget that the current boom was way overdone b/c the fed dropped interest rates to historic lows after 9-11 to prop up economy. Therefore it may take even longer to rebound.

Maybe City Sq folks will want more than a free parking garage from the city or in the alternate use non union labor to control costs. I can see the steam coming out of Murray's ears now.

Anonymous said...

City Sq., if it is built will be vastly different. The city on the move has got to realize it is not Boston. Tim M. got everything put on the back burner till he got elected and O'Brien did what he was told to do.

Jahn said...

Is this the same Tim Murray that Worcester thinks came up with the idea to punch Front St through to Union Station and to give the councillors a 90% pay raise

Anonymous said...

same guy. He got elected on smoke and mirrors making people think everything was rosy in the city on the move. Then he got elected and the problems are coming to roost.O'Brien is lost now.

Jahn said...

FWIW, Murray didnt come with the idea of opening up Front St.

A Local guy who I believe is an architect did. I cannot recall his name. This guy had been touting the idea for a number of years. The demise of Fashion Outlets certainly helped his cause though.

Bill Randell said...

Architect is dan benoit who came up with the idea of putting driving through the Worc. Center.


I personally think Tim Murray did a great job getting CIGNA to sell the Worcester Ctr and to get Berkeley on-line for City Square...


Problem I have is that once market conditions have changed and it is obvious City Square is not on schedule, everyone pretends that all is well.

Jahn said...

BIll, I dont think Cigna makes decisions based on what TiM Murray wants. They were divesting themselves of a losing piece of real estate with or with out Mr Murray. Murray just takes credit for it, just as he has claimed credit for the idea of with Front St through the Mall. He will now blame O'Brien when the project gets delayed.

Any buyer would have razed the mall b/c its not a viable operation. Murray claims credit for City Sq, yet all he did was give Berkley a parking garage paid for by the city to the tune of how many millions...all in the name of labor peace for City Sq.

Wait till we see what Berkely will need in add'l money before any market rate housing will be built.

Like how about a waiver of all permitting fees and a $10M Comm Devment Block Grant.

BTW, does anyone know curtain time for The Hand It Over Theatre? Are they behind schedule ( i.e. running low on funds)