Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Critics say Jean Stothert stalled North Omaha development project to help campaign contributer get more leverage in selling land to city for inflated price

70-acre proposed Industrial Park near
16th & Locust. Graphic: mayor's office.
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Mayor Suttle's redevelopment plan for near North Omaha is the Ames-Locust Industrial Park, which would include 70 acres owned by businessman Virgil Anderson of Anderson Excavating Company.
     Omaha offered $1.1 million for the property, but Anderson indicated in his counteroffer that he wouldn't want to part with his expanse of dirt, weeds and concrete detritus for less than about $3,000,000. This has caused the city to hear more clearly the siren call of eminent domain.
     In what may be more than a coincidence, the Omaha World-Herald says Anderson "gave Jean Stothert's mayoral campaign $10,000 in December, ...days after the redevelopment plan first appeared on the council's agenda."
     Stothert denies accusations that, for a price, she has played the role of obstructionist in order to strengthen Anderson's hand in negotiating with the city — introducing motions on two separate occasions to delay voting on the redevelopment plan and persuading councilmen Garry Gernandt, Thomas Mulligan and Franklin Thompson to go along with her.
The Douglas County Assessor's
web site shows dozens of
properties owned by Anderson
or his company. One 44-acre
parcel in the targeted area
is valued at about $316,000.
Anderson wants $3 million
for the 70 acres he owns
that the city wants.
     Stothert insisted that she only wanted to protect private property owner rights, that the $10,000 was not a factor in her decision, and that to her it was "just an issue of protecting the citizen.”
     Mayor Suttle says she's played politics with North Omaha jobs.
     Yesterday, the council unanimously voted to approve the plan, which first went before it on January 8, 2013. From the mayor's office web pages (emphasis skeptically added by AKSARBENT):
     The Ames-Locust Area Redevelopment Plan will utilize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to provide for the development of the Ames-Locust industrial park in North Omaha. The proposed industrial park will include four shovel-ready sites to be located within a 70 acre area from North 13th St. to North 16th St., east to west and Cornish Blvd. to Locust Ave., north to south. This area is in close proximity to the Interstate system, airport, and rail transportation.
      “The creation of four shovel-ready industrial sites will mean hundreds of high quality jobs and business development for North Omaha,” said Mayor Suttle.

1 comment:

  1. Dale Whited 68110-1521-43June 22, 2014 at 4:39 AM

    In what appears to be a permanently weakened U.S. economy, the likelihood of this project succeeding seems unrealistic. 50 years ago when a young lad, the area was a bustling rail yard, that I'd visit frequently via bicycle. We never anticipated that the U.S. would now be rated #16 in the world, when all factors are included. Glad I don't have another 50 years to live in this somewhat disappointing era ! CNN cable TV is source for links to annual nations' ratings. The downloaded report is utmost interesting reading.