Town Signs on For Studies of Traffic, Highland Park Village

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The Christmas carriage rides will undoubtedly come up in both studies. (Photo: Karley Kiker)

Highland Park’s Town Council approved two proposals from consulting firm NBBJ on Monday — one to guide the development of Highland Park Village and another to create a traffic study of the town. Both have been in the works for a few months.

“Everyone is well aware of what we’re doing,” Mayor Joel Williams said. “I will tell you that … Councilman [Andrew] Barr has gone way beyond the call of duty.”

By that, Williams meant that Barr revised the proposal regarding the Village. Originally, the costs of the Village study were going to be split between the town and the Village, including an economic analysis.

Under the approved proposal, the economic analysis’s costs will be solely the Village’s responsibility; the rest of the costs will be split down the middle. Councilman Stephen Rogers still wasn’t thrilled.

“I’d say that the product is obviously better than what we had,” Rogers said of the revised proposal, but he was still opposed to the idea of taxpayers footing the bill for a study about a shopping center’s development.

For the proposal regarding the Village, Rogers was the only dissenting vote. Representatives for the Village had no comment.

The proposal regarding the town’s traffic study was a different matter.

“The proposal that’s in your packets is very different from the proposal that we reviewed two weeks ago,” Williams said.

During meetings with NBBJ last month, Williams expressed concern that the proposal was more like a mobility study and needed more focusing.

The vote to approve the updated traffic-study proposal passed unanimously.

By Sarah Bennett Oct. 17, 2013 | 9:15 am | 13 Comments | Comments RSS
13 comments to "Town Signs on For Studies of Traffic, Highland Park Village"
  1. Avid Reader @ October 17, 2013 at 12:27 pm
    Yes Mayor Williams, those that care to pay attention are well aware that you are having the town taxpayers foot the bill for a study on how a privately held piece of real estate can both expand through development and how to better set up their parking to increase their revenues. What a joke. That there was only one person on the council that even had a problem with this is beyond ridiculous. Wonder how many update meetings at mico Washburn/Summers will “sponsor” for this very clear and very expensive favor.

  2. T-Bone @ October 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm
    So, does anyone know how much the study will cost and how much the taxpayers will pay? Sarah, it seems if you’re going to take the trouble write an article, get the facts….all the facts……..and not just the “jest”. That’s the problem with all government levels today. There is no transparency.

  3. XT @ October 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm
    So we have 1 member (Steve Rogers) who has some common sense, as well as some ethics. I guess that’s progress, 1 is better than none. Ridiculous.

  4. Sarah Bennett @ October 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm
    @T-Bone: The total estimated fees for a four-month process are $223,200. That’s counting the $50,000 for the economic study that will be solely the Village’s responsibility. The rest will be split down the middle. These numbers were printed in Dan’s story in our Sept. 13 issue.

    There’s a separate set of numbers should the process take six months rather than four. That total is $276,000. So you see, it’s impossible to tell you exactly what the taxpayer will pay until the length of the project is known.

  5. Sarah Bennett @ October 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm
    Also, those figures are counted from Oct. 14, when the documents were signed.

  6. Avid Reader @ October 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm
    So at the very least we are paying $86,500 for a study of how the Village owners can make more money.

  7. Observer @ October 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm
    @Avid. Won’t HP get a 1% sales tax on that “more money?”

  8. Neal @ October 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm
    @Observer: Assuming the $86,500 cost figure is correct, that means the Village would have to generate $8,650,000 in additional sales (and then some, to account for the time value of money) over a meaningful period of time in order for the town to recapture the cost. That’s a heavy lift, even for Highland Park Village.

  9. XT @ October 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm
    @Observer,
    I like the way you think. Would you mind financing some investments I’ve been interested in doing? You invest 50%, and get 1% of the profits, and I’ll get 99%. Deal?

  10. Avid Reader @ October 18, 2013 at 10:10 am
    @Observer, What XT said.

  11. NFW @ October 18, 2013 at 11:44 am
    I’m not in favor of HP paying for a private entity’s study, but I’d take 1% of any extra revenues the Village takes in over the next ten years. I’m pretty sure it would cover the cost of the study. I’ve heard there was a possibility of a hotel near the Village site. I’m not sure I see that happening, but it’s definitely already a traffic bottleneck. Perhaps, the traffic study is not such a bad idea.

  12. Avid Reader @ October 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm
    @NFW, The traffic study and economic study are great ideas. Sure, over X number of years the town will most likely recoup that cost through taxes; no question. So….why don’t we as taxpayers front the bill for items like this for every private commercial enterprise in town that brings in tax revenue? Where does it stop? Who gets to be the arbiter of which businesses get taxpayer help and which don’t; why this one and not that one.

  13. NFW @ October 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm
    @avid, I agree, but isn’t this the question that has plagued government for ages? Who gets tax abatements? Agricultural exemptions? I kinda miss the Cowboys playing in Dallas, and I’m sure Arlington appreciates the deal the now invisible Laura Miller gave them. Govt has to justify each case to their constituents, and this current group definitely plays favorites. Not sure I know all the facts on this one, but perhaps there is more than meets the eye here. If not, perhaps these old codgers need the same “throw them out” sentiment that Washington does.

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