When is revitalization just another name for new development?

August 14th, 2009 by Ken

The city of Lacey, the poster boy for new development, has grasped onto a new concept to further develop the Lacey Gateway Center.

In its wisdom, the Washington State Legislature last year passed SB 5045, which called for local governments to use tax credits for revitalization of  property within its city limits.

The deadline for cities to apply for some $2.5 million in state money is September 1 and the money is awarded on a first come first served basis.

The City of Lacey is far along in the process and has already jumped through a number of hoops.   The city wants to designate 153 acres of the Lacey Gateway project as a revitalization area.   Match the $500,000 available for each project with $500,000 of city money, and construct roads, water and sewer systems, side walks and street lights, among other things, to jump start development at the Hawks Prairie site.  

The money would fund some $14 million in  bonds and would be paid back over 25 years with the increased sales and property tax delivered by the new improvements.

Thursday, the city held a public hearing on the matter and the only speaker was Michael Cade from the Thurston County Economic Development Council who supported the idea.

But, the proposal isn’t without its critics, one of which is Cynthia Pratt, a candidate for the Lacey City Council seat currently held by Ann Burgman.  In a letter to the Council,  Pratt questions whether or not the money can be used for the city’s intended purpose  and points to a section of the bill which calls for public investment for redevelopment of brownfields and blighted areas of cities.

Pratt says that Lacey’s proposed use is not what the bill was designed to do.  She also questions about providing city services to a developer and asks shouldn’t infrastructure  be paid for by the developer as a “cost of doing business?”

Pratt also thinks the city didn’t do an adequate job of informing the public because it left out vital information such as the detailed costs of any improvements, as required by the bill.

So the big question is this – – Is the bill designed to help new development or is it designed to help city’s revitalize decaying sections of their town?

That’s a question the State of Washington is going to have to answer before it awards any money to any proposal.

Posted in Business, Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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