Longmont’s Mall theater solution: Netflix!


Contrary to what some, or even many, people may think, I don’t go out of my way to try to make some members of Longmont City Council look bad. They usually do it all by themselves. Problem is, most people in this city have no idea what kinds of things come out of their mouths, and if they did they would occasionally be appalled – or at least entertained.

On Saturday May 2nd, three councilmembers (Karen Benker, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen) hosted a town meeting along with members of city staff. The hottest topic that took up most of the meeting was the Twin Peaks Mall. Whenever the mall is a topic in the Times-Call, the comments from citizens are many, long, and heated. For the most part, people want something done with this failing piece of property. And yesterday.

Who needs theaters when you have Netflix?
Many of the comments by the above councilmembers were quite revealing. The most ridiculous has to go to Mr. Hansen. Most people in the city seem to be in favor of a new theater, the old one has lousy seating, along with sub-par picture and sound quality. It’s ugly and people go elsewhere, plain and simple. When asked about this theater situation, Mr. Hansen said that no one is going to theaters anymore, and a viable alternative is to stay at home and rent from Netflix.

Now, I love Netflix, use it constantly, both streaming and by mail. But how many of you relish the idea of sitting around the glow of your TV (and the warmth of your mercury-laden CFL bulbs) and staying home to watch movies? Keep in mind Netflix doesn’t have movies when they first come out, so you have to wait a bit for that new picture you want to see. Mr. Hansen also used the excuse of getting the flu or cold in theaters, which is possible anywhere you have actual interaction with live human beings. Who needs that, right?

It’s tough being green
Then the point of driving to the theater came up and how he can just walk down to the mailbox and drop off his DVD. This is not very eco-friendly when you take into account everything involved with multiple vehicles in the US Postal system getting that DVD to and from your mailbox. It’s a much smaller carbon footprint to drive a mile, or even several miles, to a theater. Or walk, or ride your bike, or take a bus – just about anything.

Then there’s the “benefit to the city” issue: What sales/use tax does Netflix bring to the City of Longmont? I’d guess ZERO. And Mr. Hansen is endorsing a service that competes directly with companies around town that rent or sell DVD’s who actually do bring revenues into the city.

His excuse was the improvements in flat panels and home theaters, and that the sound they offer is about as good as you’re going to get at a theater. How many of you would agree with that? It may be better than what Twin Peaks Mall theater has NOW, but not in a new stadium seating, Dolby Digital theater, which is about the bare minimum now in new theaters surrounding, but not in, Longmont.

How do you really feel?
But it wasn’t just the theater with Mr. Hansen. He said more than once he isn’t against the mall redevelopment, yet he has consistently spoken and voted against it. There is a contingent here in Longmont, and they always side with Mr. Hansen and the “Benker-wing” of city council, who have made it clear it’s just fine with them if the land where the mall now sits became one big Open Space with prairie dogs as far as the eye can see. It’s my opinion that Mr. Hansen’s above comments reveal his true feelings about the mall: let it fail, let it be bulldozed, let it be “returned to its natural state” (my term).

What was really infuriating was his comments that now is not the time to do this with the economy in the shape that it’s in, and that the city was in a “much better position to do something” prior to the downturn. I’ve been writing about this situation for well over a year, (see for yourself at this link) and the stalling game this council has played with the mall. There have been public meetings (which Mr. Hansen never attended), studies, a “charrette” – you name it, it’s been done ad nuaseam with this mall. And long before these “hard economic times”.

The most accurate thing he said was “they (Panattoni) are in the mall business, and I’m not. They’re probably more experts than we are.” You wouldn’t know that watching City Council meetings on this subject for the last year and a half. Karen Benker noted that “people are voting with their feet”, which is true, right into other malls and theaters in Boulder, Erie, and Loveland.

Council’s Mall hostility
Sarah Levisons continued apparent hostility towards Panattoni continued with her comments about “strip mall stuff like Harvest Junction”, and how inexperienced the company is. She also kept saying they could build any time they want – although there is the little issue of getting it through Planning and Zoning and a vote of council – which is a consistent NO vote from Ms. Levison.

Like I said prior, drive by Harvest Junction, is that (and the now planned hotel) the small, meaningless potatoes that some on this council pretend it to be? The question was asked, and Ms. Benker didn’t quite get it, so I’ll rephrase it: The pro-mall comments at this meeting notwithstanding, about a year ago you were more positive on the mall situation, something changed and as your support went south, the project stalled. Without using the excuse of the economy (your support fell prior to that), why did your support wane? Was it a shifting interest and prioritization towards Downtown? What has Panattoni done wrong, or differently, to warrant this negative treatment?

These things have consequences
Whatever the reason, all of the citizens of Longmont suffer over this council’s inaction, stalling, and stonewalling of this issue. If nothing happens with Twin Peaks Mall before November, regardless of your newfound and returned support, the stalling by you and the consistent non-support by your fellow councilmembers (Levison, Hansen, and McCoy) will be a major election issue. Count on it.

(Additional resources for this report provided by the Longmont Examiner)

What is the City of Longmont hiding?


The City of Longmont is hiding something from its citizens to protect a “favored” client: Thistle Community Housing, who has proposed to partner with the Longmont Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) on a mixed-use project in downtown Longmont . The City Council needs to explain why it’s considering giving millions in taxpayer dollars to a non-profit developer with potentially serious financial problems. And the city’s financial director needs to explain why he’s keeping this developer’s financial problems a secret.

Thistle wants $9 million from the city
According to a March 26 Times-Call story, LDDA wanted more financial information from Thistle before moving forward with their project. The article stated, “Under the tentative agreement, the LDDA would put up $5.5 million out of its tax increment financing fund and the city would donate the land — valued last year at about $2 million — and would waive about $800,000 in development fees.” And a “$752,000 financing gap that one side or the other must fill”. According to my math, that’s $9,052,000!

City’s Secret Audit
I received an anonymous tip that the City of Longmont did an audit of Thistle, and that the financial audit revealed serious problems. Although LDDA board members were able to see the audit, no one could keep a copy because Thistle asked the Longmont Finance Director Jim Golden to keep the document’s findings a secret.

Now the city is denying Open Records requests to release this information. Thistle is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. How many of you know what that is? I did a random poll of people, none were attorneys, but all knew what a 501(c)(3) was: a group that you can give contributions to and write it off on your taxes. Just about every aspect of these types of organizations is supposed to be open to public scrutiny.

IRS Code mandates Thistle disclose its financial records
When I asked the Longmont City Attorney Eugene Mei about this, his response was: “I am unaware of Thistle’s corporate status, or the law pertaining to 501(C)3 entities.” Let me help out here. At the following link http://www.990online.com/fedlaws.html there is an explanation of this part of the IRS code. Here are some relevant highlights:

26 USC 6104(d). Public Inspection of Certain Annual Returns and Applications for Exemption.
(1) In general.–In the case of an organization described in subsection (c) or (d) of section 501 —
(A) a copy of– (i) the annual return filed under section 6033 (relating to returns by exempt organizations) by such organization, and
(ii) (refers to exemptions, no exemption has been requested)
(B) upon request of an individual made at such principal office or such a regional or district office, a copy of such annual return and exempt status application materials shall be provided to such individual without charge other than a reasonable fee for any reproduction and mailing costs.
The request described in subparagraph (B) must be made in person or in writing. If such request is made in person, such copy shall be provided immediately and, if made in writing, shall be provided within 30 days.

State Records show Thistle $23.5 million in the hole
Thistle’s records, by federal law, are not confidential. Why is Longmont treating it as such? Here’s where it gets interesting, and the point of this story: Thistle did file a short preliminary report with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, as it is required to do. The numbers are troubling, which I’d guess is why the LDDA wanted more financial information and the city did an audit on Thistle. According to this Secretary of State link, for the year ending 9/30/2008 , Thistle had expenses that outpaced revenues by over $4 million, and an End of Year balance of -$23,535,929. Those are both negative numbers. What hasn’t been released yet is the full report describing the sources of revenue, where the expenses went to, and why they were nearly triple the revenue coming in.

What is in the city audit Thistle doesn’t want the public to know?
Now maybe there is a good explanation for this and the numbers could just reveal what is happening to many non-profits during these tough financial times. But these poor numbers should make the public very curious about what the city’s independent audit revealed. The numbers published online by Thistle were bad enough. What is it that the city found that makes Thistle demand that the findings remain a secret?

If you’ll recall, 2 years ago a similar downtown project was discontinued after it was revealed there was a $9 million “financial gap”. And of course we know about the bait and switch of FasTracks and how the price continues to go up and the construction gets further and further away. Regardless of your opinion about this project and this organization, we need to make sure something similar doesn’t happen partnering up with Thistle.

Some council members are playing favorites with developers
Some members of this council stalled Panattoni’s request to move forward with the redeveloping the Twin Peaks Mall, and their emboldened city mouthpieces have smeared Panattoni, a company with a proven record. Look at Harvest Junction and the news releases featuring new stores and even a new hotel, as well as their plans for a new theater and their overall vision for the mall (no, I’m not paid or asked by anyone to say the above).

But when members of this council favor (Thistle) in an area they’d prefer to focus on (Downtown), it gets completely different treatment, even if they may not be financially sound. Something’s rotten here, and the involvement of those involved, including certain members of city council and city staff, should be held accountable. And preferably before this project even gets close to reality.

Go to the LDDA board meeting on Wednesday and ask some good questions
The LDDA will be holding a meeting this Wednesday April 22 at 528 Main Street at 4:15 p.m. If you are concerned about this issue, show up and ask questions, like: Can Thistle really come up with the money to fund this project, or not? Is the city going to be left holding the bag if Thistle goes belly up? Is Thistle using taxpayer money to get itself out of a financial jam? Ask the council members who were on the Technical Review Committee (TRC) that recommended this project if they are aware of this financial information? The council liaison is Karen Benker (303)774-7745 karenbenkerlg@earthlink.net and the staff liaison is Finance Director Jim Golden (who originally denied the Open Records request) (303)651-8629 jim.golden@ci.longmont.co.us

A dark cloud is going to remain over this project unless Longmont lives up to its promise of open and honest government.
(Picture source: City of Longmont government website)

Amateurism from the top down

It’s a new day in America, or so we’re told. More like that ghastly movie “Day After Tomorrow” if you’re one of the millions who have seen your job go away or a good portion of your retirement account. We kept hearing that “the adults are in charge now”, funny, we haven’t heard that lately.

Buffoonery is in full bloom from Washington all the way down to little old Longmont. Let’s start at the top and work our way downward, literally and figuratively. From the Telegraph UK, in reference to President Obamas snub of British Prime Minister Brown: “Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.” But what parties they are throwing!

And this gem of true class: “Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade – a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama’s Oval Office desk. Mr Obama’s gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.” Yep, in over his head. Maybe Hillary Clinton was right.

Speaking of our new Secretary of State, the Russian media is having a field day with her “reset” button that she gave to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “But instead of the Russian word for “reset” (perezagruzka) it featured a slightly different word meaning “overload” or “overcharged” (peregruzka).

Which brings us to our local, ahem, leaders. From the Times-Call: “A Longmont lobbying effort, including Dove chocolate squares taped onto sheets of talking points, fell short of securing federal stimulus funds for a new Diagonal Highway interchange. Before the start of Wednesday night’s Denver Regional Council of Governments meeting, Councilwoman Karen Benker distributed the chocolate-bearing fact sheets — and a letter from Mayor Roger Lange — arguing the case for a $25 million interchange at Colorado highways 119 and 52. Benker is Longmont’s representative on the DRCOG board…” It gets better.

In another Times-Call story, at the same DRCOG event (reminder of previous sentence – “Benker is Longmont’s representative on the DRCOG board”): “No one stepped forward at Wednesday’s hearing to testify in support of Longmont’s application for the McIntosh Lake trail proposal.” Did this part occur prior to the other? Was she out buying a $3 bag of Doves? The result was the same whether Councilmember Benker was there (in the first case) or not (in the second case) – nothing for Longmont. Thanks for the great representation!

But what did get approved? Among other things, a project for Nederland that will help them with their Frozen Dead Guy Days. Ironic that Ms. Benker should choose chocolate from a huge food conglomeration (I happen to love Doves by the way – only if dark) at around the same moment news breaks of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory closing its store at the Twin Peaks Mall (another place I love and will miss). It’s almost like dancing on the grave of your constituents who just lost their jobs. Wait, someone did that too, Congressman Jared Polis about the Rocky Mountain News shutting down.

The fun never ends.

Mall (Un)Developments


I leave town for a few days and all heck breaks lose. Longtime city employees resign, “porn inspectors” wreak havoc, and council has a private meeting with the city attorney with yelling being heard during the meeting. It’s weird seeing these Longmont headlines coming across the ol’ Blackberry from a few states away.

Such fertile ground to cover, but since I’ve written plenty of times about the Twin Peaks Mall, figured I’d hit that one first. My first sentence shouldn’t surprise most people: Longmont’s blowing it.

The main point Mayor Lange and other councilmembers were making towards Panattoni’s Will Damrath was that without a final plan, a final version of what to expect, they may not want to move forward. Lots of people (I assume lots of different people, but you never know) have commented about this at the Times-Call comment section of this story, but at the top of my list is this question: How can procrastinating on this and basically doing nothing be better than at least approving something, specifically Phase 1 which would bring a new movie theater, a couple of new anchors and improvements to the current infrastructure?

What Mr. Damrath was proposing was the above, and for now leaving the rest of the mall alone, all to be decided at a later date. But council just couldn’t get past the idea of not knowing what the final product would be. It sounded like an ultimatum to me: “tell us how it will end up, or the deal is off“, in so many words. Way too many things can change in the next few years. To make a plan based on lousy financial times right now could limit the possibilities if things turn around in a couple of years. Killing the whole thing will guarantee that mall will be an eyesore for years to come. How is that good?

What decent anchor store will come in to a mall in that scenario? And now it sounds as if Panattoni is doing that very thing: shopping around for a couple of interim anchor stores. Can’t say I blame them with a rudderless council with little forward vision.

When I was traveling around, I drove by a lot of older malls that make ours look like the Taj Mahal. Talk about blighted. But something told me it was just the way it was and the people have expected it as all they were going to get. But these places weren’t Colorado, they were on the slide, not on the way up. When I looked at them I wondered if this was what was in store for Longmont: lower standards that we’ll just have to learn to live with.

I also believe there’s a contingent here in town that would be just fine with that scenario, heck, let’s turn it into Open Space, destroy the tax base, get rid of those evil companies down there employing people – you know the drill. Real regressive nonsense. It’s sad these types hold sway with members of our current council.

I’ve always thought Longmont could be more and better than it is. This mall had the potential to be a big first step towards that. It appears Longmont’s chance is slipping away, and what future developer will take a chance with a wishy-washy, do-nothing-for-the-future pack of talkers, not doers?

Personally, I’d like to see Panatonni scrap this “partnership” idea, take the ideas from the town meetings, and get going on what we, their consultants, and their prospective tenants think will work best – and just do it. I assume they don’t have the financial capability to go alone on this, or they would’ve.

I just don’t want to be the town that they say this about: “We’ve dealt with larger cities, corporations and the like, and frankly Longmont is a joke that doesn’t know its head from a hole in the ground…that hole being just east of Hover and north of Ken Pratt Parkway. Buh-bye and good luck!”

Let Confusion Reign

There was a proposed agreement to simplify the Hwy 119 corridor with adequate access points and signal spacing. It had nothing to do with urban sprawl, or as Longmont City Councilman Sean McCoy calls it “green field sprawl”. Watch the video below and see how it’s twisted and convoluted, if you can follow.

If you can make it through the stammering, you’re probably asking how does signal spacing and access points encourage “green field sprawl” exactly? And the Weld County Commissioners are in the business of growing a city (Longmont) beyond what Mr. McCoy believes it can handle? He threw out the “exceptional benefit” a couple of times, taking lessons from Ms. Levison? Again though, this isn’t a land grab, so what’s the point with this term? Then he brings up the never incorporated town of Freedom “in some peoples understanding” as he put it, what some people, like two?
And mentioning Freedom, an idea hatched to put the brakes on the Union Lifebridge development, he gives yet another indirect backhand to this church and its members.

Then he said we need to spend more time on urban renewal. What’s the largest urban renewal project that’s been in the news for the last few months? Twin Peaks Mall, a project he has continually voted against. So there’s some talking out of both sides of the mouth there.

But he’s not alone on this city council when it comes to applying a double standard when it comes to Lifebridge and the Mall.
…to be continued.

You’re Building What Where?

There was a front page article in the Daily Times-Call on Sunday June 29, 2008 entitled ” Landowners in Limbo” which tells the story about land and business owners around the area where the FasTracks station is supposed to be built.

I watched with interest the June 3, 2008 Longmont City Council when they talked about this subject. When I saw the map on the screen, it sure looked like the station’s parking lot was located where Budget Home Center currently sits. If you were like me, as you watched this, you probably assumed that some deal had already been discussed and that the land owners were aware of this plan.

Apparently, according to this article, they weren’t.

At about the 55 minute mark of the June 3rd meeting video, you can see the concepts for this area. This information was in a council packet at the time of this meeting, but is no longer part of the PDF on the city’s site. The agenda itself can be found at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/agendas/2008/060308.htm

Councilman Brian Hansen did ask about the smaller property owners, to which the answer was that they could pool together and be part of the larger development, but ” they haven’t explored in any detail” this idea – and it sounds like they may not have shared this idea with the land owners either.

I’ve frequented Budget Home Center quite a bit over the years, and figured that the competition from Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware was just too much for them, and they might fade away for the purposes of this light rail station. According to Budget’s owner Butch Vernon, that is not the case. Besides not hearing anything from RTD, he’s hoping they will relocate his business or compensate him so he can relocate it himself.

Unfortunately, a spokesperson for RTD said they do use eminent domain and will resort to condemnation if no agreement can be made with the land owner. In other words, they’ll just take it if they want it.

Is that what the voters in Longmont really voted for? Light rail at any cost, regardless of the human and business debris it leaves behind? All you anti-big box store (like Home Depot) types who defend smaller local businesses (like Budget Home Center), where are you on this one? (I hear crickets, and hypocrites)

What is with this trend of trampling all over property owners rights in Longmont? Some examples: the attempt to take Emery Street to the detriment of surrounding property owners. The fiasco with Lifebridge and other property owners near Union Reservoir, stalling into oblivion plans to work their own property. George Marxmiller and the city’s virtual taking of some of his property and denial of release of his liability, making him risk everything. The property owners of the Twin Peaks Mall area, and the hoops they’re being required to jump through. And now this.

And who’s making all this noise and doing all this meddling? Little tyrants running around with probably little to not much property of their own, since they probably can’t afford to live in their own little nirvana to the southwest? So if they’re going to be miserable settling for Longmont, the rest of us have to share in their misery? The same types who want to mold Longmont into something other than what it is, and not something better. Some were even elected!

This is what you get when you just let bureaucrats, and their fawning citizen apologists, run roughshod unchecked and not held accountable. Not to worry, what are the odds of this happening to, or affecting, you? Probably higher than you think.

Mall-itics Pt. 5

Continuing the coverage of the Mall Redevelopment Meeting of June 16th, I had to comment on one of previous speakers comments and of course the council politics part of it. I didn’t identify myself or promote my blog/podcast, just speaking as a citizen in this unprepared speech.

I just wanted to address the point that he made, that can the citizens, can the community, can they handle this? Can they afford this? And this is what I want everybody to tell their councilmembers: The city and the community can’t afford not to do this. They can’t afford for the mall to be the way it is right now. They can’t afford for it to get worse. And in 2 or 3 years, when they ( Panattoni) still own it, and everybody starts screaming that this has become a nightmare, fiasco, boarded up facility, you can tell those councilmembers that aren’t attending these meetings..and if I’m not wrong these meetings have been on (different nights of the week). There’s been three meetings, one of those three non-voting people have come to one meeting ( Levison), two of them haven’t come to any ( McCoy & Hansen), so I don’t want to hear the excuse that they want to listen, they want to learn. No, they’re just flat out against it. This thing is bigger than downtown, it’s bigger than light rail ( FastTracks), it’s bigger than the Lifebridge development, it’s bigger than most anything else going on in this city. It’s important, so all of you need to tell all your councilmembers exactly how you feel.”

The next speaker chimed in, and this wasn’t mentioned at all in the Times-Call article, and I’m sure the speaker would like her councilman, Brian Hansen, to be aware of her comments, as she said he’s basically ignoring her. She said she voted for Brian Hansen and she lives near him, and that he has his own thinking, but doesn’t poll his district to see what they want, and that he won’t listen to her. After the meeting, someone else asked how in the world he got elected in the first place. Hey, I’m just repeating what I heard.

The group got a little hostile towards a member of the consulting group when he was showing a design similar to 29th St in Boulder. The question was asked ” aren’t we all in unanimous agreement this isn’t what we want? Why are you showing this to us?” At first I thought it was a little reverse psychology in play; get the crowd up in a lather about adamantly not wanting anything resembling what you’re pitching to them. Then slowly turn them your way as you show some nice concept drawings of what they do want, an updated indoor mall. But apparently I was giving this guy too much credit, this did not occur, and the long slide show of other developments around the country was anticlimactic.

I just didn’t get the feeling this portion added much to the discussion. I think what people want, and I heard this from people on the inside, is that people, including councilmembers, just want to see a plan of what WE might get HERE, not so much what others are doing. To this, Panattoni’s Will Damrath did show a concept overhead rendering of a theater and alterations to the current mall. But he also said whatever they show us now, could change tomorrow. As important as community involvement is, tenant needs and demands rule. Unfortunately, we have some citizens and members of council that think they can micromanage the design, architecture, and building of a mall. Talk about ” inexperienced” (see Pt.2).

The Times Call story received a big response, about 39 comments in 3 days. Most are in favor of doing something with the mall, and there was a scattering of apologists for the councilmembers who vote against anything to do with the mall. I’d like to know, if not this plan, then what is their plan for the mall area? Panattoni has been endlessly answering the same questions, but I haven’t heard the councilmembers against this answer this one. I get that they a) don’t think it was blighted, and b) they don’t want a public/private partnership with this corporation. So what’s your idea? And don’t bring up Downtown or FastTracks. Tell us your plan for this area. Got one?

Mall-itics Pt. 2

I’m sure the final paragraph of Pt. 1 got the attention, and ire, of some. So why not use it as a starting pointfor Pt. 2.

During the June 10th Longmont City Council meeting, and this goes to the previous “truly ignorant comments” reference I made, Councilmember Sean McCoy said about Twin Peaks Mall owner and redeveloper Panattoniwe have a willing owner, but we have a very inexperienced owner.” Sorry if that was one long sentence, but the inclusion of “ignorant”, “inexperienced”, and Sean McCoy was key. I know I’ve been hard on this guy with his style of speech, but this was a prepared and thought out slam against this corporation. And it was a fairly misinformed comment, as I’ll show below.

Regardless of how ignorant this comment makes one of our representatives appear, the bigger problem is that he’s willing to throw up against the wall this misinformation hoping it might stick. Of course, there will be those that will lap up this nonsense as the red meat they occasionally require, free thinkers that they are, NOT. But it just lowers the bar even further of what is acceptable behavior in and out of council meetings. Whatever helps the cause, right?

Perhaps this new thing called the Internet is still unknown in some councilmembers households, but a quick check of www.panattoni.com shows that they’ve done a little more than just Harvest Junction here in Longmont, a project in itself that isn’t all that small. And a fairly recent project at that, or did Mr. McCoy miss that? I could see how Lowes and Best Buy on our newest boulevard could be overlooked.

But here are some other Retail projects of Panattoni: Piemonte at Ontario Center, Ontario, CA – Oak Valley Shopping Center, Beaumont, CA – and Raley’s Shopping Center, Elk Grove, CA. They did these Office projects too: Gold Pointe Corporate Center, Sacramento, CA – Cedar Ridge Business Park, Southlake, TX – Beltway 8 Corporate Center, Houston, TX – and the CalSTRS (that’s California State Teachers Retirement System) Headquarters. Flex projects include: Cornelius Pass Corporate Center, Hillsboro, OR – Broomfield Corporate Center, Broomfield, CO – and Laguna West Business Center, Elk Grove, CA. And there’s Industrial projects, too: Plainfield Business Park, Indianapolis, IN – iPort 12, Carteret, NJ – and Rainier Park of Industry, Sumner, WA.

I could see how they could be viewed as “inexperienced”.

On their partial client list, here are some names Mr. McCoy probably has never heard of: Ace Hardware, ADT, Allstate Insurance, Amazon.Com, American Red Cross, AutoZone, Ball Aerospace, Bank of America, Blue Shield, DeVry University, ETrade, Fidelity Title, Hartford Insurance, ITT Technical Institute, MITRE Corporation, Raytheon, Snap-On Tools, Wachovia Bank, and the list goes on and on.

So how does Mr. McCoy’s experience and clients compare? Normally I wouldn’t ask this, but he opened this door with his ridiculous comment. It took all of a few minutes of internet surfing to find that information. If Mr. McCoy can’t put much serious thought and effort into this elected position, maybe he should just stick to pointless pontificating and abstain from all serious discussions or voting.

Green Built Mall

I’m working on a bigger story about Longmont Power’s solar rebate offer ( Times-Call story here) and the May 12th Twin Peaks Mall Area Public Meeting ( Times-Call story here) , but wanted to do a quick take on a combination of these two stories.

I’ve written in the past about my research into alternative energy, specifically solar for water heating and electricity generation here and here. And some of my opinions of the Twin Peaks Mall and its future here and here. Much more on all of that later, and a more in depth report of the above mentioned meeting with some quotes from citizens as well.

But I did want to address one comment about building the mall ‘green’. I’m all for conservation and I’ve been walking that walk (another link here) for some time now. But I’m also aware of bottom lines. So, knowing Panattoni is a fairly regular reader of my pearls of wisdom, I asked them about this specifically.

For you that aren’t aware, Longmont Power does a fairly decent job of delivering electricity at a somewhat reasonable rate, comparatively speaking. Don’t mistake me for a cheerleader for them; I’m not happy that they don’t offer the same incentives and rebates that Xcel offers to people outside the City of Longmont, which is substantial. But from a business point of view, since Longmont makes electricity reasonable, it just doesn’t pay to shell out the considerable expense for solar panels on top of the mall.

I sort of knew that answer before I asked, but asked anyway. They pointed out there are parts of the nation, the Northeast for example, that offer to erect panels galore for basically nothing to help ease some of the demand put on the grid. That’s a no brainer. But in Longmont’s case, it’s tougher to justify. And the ” feel good” factor, well, doesn’t really factor in much.

So, until the price point and efficiency of solar panels improves, and the incentives get a little sweeter (for businesses and consumers), it’s pretty slim that part of the mall will be green. Even with the price of oil as it stands today, although from what I’ve been told we’re mostly coal powered here anyway.

Hesitate To Emulate

I know, and you know, there is a contingent here in Longmont that wants to be Boulder Jr. Some of these seem to feel Boulder can do no wrong and that they walk on water. We also have a councilmember who works for the Boulder Valley School District who tells us we shouldn’t speak ill (” smack?”) of our neighbor to the southwest. But if some of us are going to look up to this city and their ways, we must also acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them, and not repeat them.

Previously, I mentioned the Twin Peaks Mall, and the path that it is on, which is similar in some ways to what happened in Boulder. Are we going to follow that example and see a slow bleed, years of dormancy, and a resurrection that was long overdue? Or are we going to learn from Boulder’s mistakes and avoid losing years of sales tax revenue, along with an eyesore in a high visibility area?

Another somewhat similar scenario is developing on Longmont’s eastern boundary. The “no growth” or “slow growth” seems to be more of a Castle Longmont mentality. Instead of a moat of water and alligators, or burning oil, this wished-for version is untouched, undeveloped, open space. Boulder County even tried to take land from Weld County as open space (paid with Boulder County taxpayer money, but not technically IN Boulder County) to stop development and continue this hoped-for buffer.

This concept costs a lot of money. This is prime real estate on a heavily traveled highway between I-25 and Longmont. It also takes a lot of influence on Weld County, which Boulder and Longmont don’t seem to have. Longmont turned away a large development ( Lifebridge), preceded by public trashing of the present and future Super Walmarts, and the message was sent that Longmont is somewhat closed for business and has gone protectionist and isolationist.

The message was heard, and Firestone’s (or Mead’s or anyone else in Weld County) reaction is the consequence. ” You turn them away in a prime area? We’ll be more than happy to fill the void“, was basically the response. A “void” is exactly what some in Longmont wanted, at the expense of landowners in Weld County who sit on solid gold along Hwy 119.

Mission accomplished, Longmont could easily now be cut-off and isolated, but probably not in the way some had wished. How is this similar to Boulder? Think Broomfield. Think FlatIron Crossing.

There is much to like about Boulder, but it isn’t infallible in its decisions and policy making. Try as some may to emulate Boulder, there is a huge difference that shouldn’t be overlooked: Longmont can’t afford to make the same above mistakes Boulder made; we don’t have the finances, influence, or political capital to blunder on their level.

I’m hoping that in 6-7 years we aren’t looking at a boarded up, fenced-in mall, and booming financial activity just OUTSIDE our sales tax collecting grasp. All sectors of the city will suffer from the choices that bring us to that. The time to realize it and act is NOW. Those on council or committees (past and present) may be term-limited out by then, but some of us will never let people forget who brought us to that point.

Time to choose your legacy.