We have almost exhausted ourselves relating the long and troubling story of the Poisoned Park, AKA the Union Pacific Park, a perfect case study in local government overreach, squandered millions, and zero accountability from our “very, very good” City Manager or anybody else for that matter.
First the Redevelopment Agency interfered in a private sector transaction; then they unwittingly acquired contaminated property. Then they built a park that nobody but cholos and borrachos used (good thing half of it was fenced off!). Several million bucks later city staff sat on an embarrassing disaster whose magnitude could only be minimized by comparing it to other historical Redevelopment fiascoes.
But now to the point of this post. On Tuesday, the council voted to apply for grant funds to continue the “trail” westward from Highland, even though they had been informed of a toxic plume under the property. More millions spent on more contaminated property! And still no explanation about the fact that this idiotic “trail” has no provision to take pedestrians, cyclists (or horses, yee haw!) over the at-grade crossings at Highland and Richman; and no coherent vision about how this thing is supposed to function at all.
When the issue of contamination popped up, City Engineer Don Hoppe made some noise about how they had looked into the issue (yeah, sure Don); ever helpful City Attorney Jones suggested that the application be made anyway while some sort of site check up be performed.
Huh? Once again nobody seemed real curious about how the City got stuck with contaminated property (no doubt mistakes were made and hindsight is 20/20). Instead of accountability they seem more more interested in chucking more good money after bad.
And of course it didn’t really seem to bother anybody that the City’s previous efforts on the Union Pacific right-of-way have been a titanic debacle from start to…well, there will probably never be a finish.
The thought process behind the original, ill-conceived acquisition still seems to be driving things along: it’s there, we’re the City, and there is an opportunity to own property, play park designer and trail manager, not to mention playing around with millions of dollars of somebody else’s dough.