Archive for December, 2011

New life for (part of) the Civic?

New life for (part of) the Civic?

Study suggests Music Hall could survive for an encore as a stand-alone building

 

You thought the Civic Auditorium was dead? Not so fast.

The study that looked at the auditorium’s current condition floated an intriguing possibility: Raze the arena and Mancuso Hall but keep the Music Hall as a separate building.

The Music Hall isn’t designed for this. But the hall is still relatively well used – three concerts and a comedy act are on the schedule, and music recitals still book the facility.

So is it possible to raze the rest and keep the Music Hall? Yes, the study says, “through careful planning and demolition.”

OK, so it might be physically possible. But is it fiscally possible? That’s a decision Mayor Jim Suttle and the city will have to make.

What do you think? Is any part of the Civic Auditorium worth paying the money to keep?

December 30, 2011 Comments Read More
2011 Year in Review: Two ballparks open

2011 Year in Review: Two ballparks open

Fans showed up big for debut seasons at TD Ameritrade Park and Werner Park

 

I take a turn today in the World-Herald’s 2011 Year in Review. Today: The metro area’s two new ballparks open to great fanfare – and great attendance.

The buildup to the openings was dominated by worries about the fiscal responsibility of building two stadiums. But when it came time to play two, the fans responded.

Neither the Storm Chasers nor the College World Series set an attendance record. But combined, the two drew nearly 750,000 fans – a record that eclipsed even the 2010 Rosenblatt Stadium farewell.

December 30, 2011 Comments Read More
Targeting the taggers

Targeting the taggers

Officials want to bolster local graffiti laws as vandalism reports surge.

 

Police statistics show the city’s graffiti removal van visited 2,453 locations through the end of September, a sharp increase from the 1,196 sites recorded in 2010. City crews also handled 2,508 graffiti cases through October, an increase of roughly 1,500 cases from the same time frame in 2010.

The city wants to bolster its laws against graffiti. Proposed changes to city ordinances would explicitly require property owners to remove graffiti from their property unless they give the city written or verbal permission to remove it.

Under the proposal, authorities could provide a written, 10-day notice to remove graffiti, then send workers to clear it if property owners didn’t remove it or appeal the city order within that time period.

Some neighborhood representatives and local business, though, say the changes don’t go far enough.

December 29, 2011 Comments Read More
2011 Year in Review: Suttle survives recall

2011 Year in Review: Suttle survives recall

Suttle came within 2,310 votes of being recalled

 

The World-Herald’s look back at the 2011 year in news remembers the recall attempt against Mayor Jim Suttle.

Reporter Paul Goodsell recalls that Suttle won the recall election by 2,310 votes.

How did it affect the mayor?

“It made my resolve stronger,” Suttle told Goodsell. “I like my job. I like what I’m doing.”

Suttle’s term runs until 2013. But the new year will surely see challengers come forward with their own campaigns.

Will Suttle run?

Goodsell reports that Suttle “doesn’t rule out a re-election bid in 2013.”

Based on the few reader comments with the story, Suttle still has his critics. So what do you think: Will Suttle run?

December 29, 2011 Comments Read More
Mayor Suttle: Looking back, looking ahead

Mayor Suttle: Looking back, looking ahead

Mayor Jim Suttle outlined his 2012 goals in a statement and video his office released Wednesday. Priority one: job creation.

“Providing jobs in this economy is not easy,” Suttle said. “But it is crucial to the health of our city on so many levels and should be a priority for all of us. Entering the New Year, we should continue working together to make Omaha the best place to live.”

Suttle also said he will work with the federal government and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in an attempt to defray the costs for the city’s federally-mandated $1.7 billion sewer separation project.

Other priorities include keeping the city and neighborhoods safe and rebuilding streets and parks. Suttle said he will continue to emphasize long-range planning.

“We have seen what decades of short term decision making has done – while it may sound good in a political debate, taxpayers suffer in the long run and we can’t afford to continue on that path.”

Suttle also recognized some of his administration’s accomplishments from 2011: restoring a stable outlook on the city’s AAA bond rating, overcoming the Missouri River flood, taking more than 700 illegal guns off the streets and approving 18 tax increment financing redevelopment projects worth $150  million.

December 28, 2011 Comments Read More
Metro Omaha growth: A look at 2050

Metro Omaha growth: A look at 2050

Study to advise metro area on future growth

 

Good story today from our senior business reporter, Steve Jordon, on a study being undertaken to look at the future growth of the metro area. It’s a long-term look – going out to 2050.

The study, due to be completed in 2014, is being coordinated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency with the help of more than 30 local governments, agencies and community organizations.

The goal is to help guide the metro area’s development course over the next generation. Jordon reports that the assumption is the metro population will double by 2050.

What happens if that growth sprawls? What if Omaha’s redevelopment picks up even more? What if a new interstate beltway is built?

In case it isn’t apparent: More and more, the metro area’s growth is outside the control of the City of Omaha. It falls on a group like MAPA to help set a coherent, cooperative vision.

What do you think the metro area’s future should look like?

 

December 28, 2011 Comments Read More
“Ben Nelson has been a strong voice for Omahans and it will be a shame to lose his leadership in Washington. Deb and I wish him the best.” – Mayor Jim Suttle, via Twitter, on Sen. Nelson’s retirement

“Ben Nelson has been a strong voice for Omahans and it will be a shame to lose his leadership in Washington. Deb and I wish him the best.” – Mayor Jim Suttle, via Twitter, on Sen. Nelson’s retirement

December 27, 2011 Comments Read More
More lobbying for the city?

More lobbying for the city?

Mayor Jim Suttle seeks to hire a Unicameral lobbyist for up to $31k

 

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle wants to hire a second lobbyist to represent the city in the Legislature, but the proposal is drawing the ire of some City Council members.

World-Herald reporter Matt Wynn says Suttle is asking the council to approve a contract with the lobbying firm O’Hara Lindsay & Associates of Lincoln.

The late addition to Tuesday’s council agenda calls for the city to pay the firm up to $31,000 through the first half of the year. The payments would be made monthly and could end at any time, at the discretion of the mayor’s office.

O’Hara Lindsay also represented the city during the 2011 legislative session. The firm was paid $73,000 to represent the city’s interests as the Legislature considered several bills that put millions in city funding at risk.

Former State Sen. John Lindsay is a principal of the company.

December 19, 2011 Comments Read More
Tuesday’s agenda

Tuesday’s agenda

The City Council is set to vote on approving roughly $205,000 worth of legal settlements during Tuesday afternoon’s meeting.

That figure includes an $85,000 offer to end a federal lawsuit brought by an Omaha family in 2008. The family sued the city and several Omaha Police Department officers after authorities served a botched search warrant on their home. City officials acknowledge paperwork wasn’t handled appropriately, but said officers made no deliberate attempt to undermine the law.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include:

  • A vote to spend $45,200 on upgraded streetlights in downtown Benson, which are meant to improve the area’s look and safety at night.
  • A vote on the Parks and Recreation Department’s proposal to allow ads at sports and athletic complexes. The Parks Department expects to net roughly $279,000 in revenue from the idea. Expect proposals for amendments.
December 19, 2011 Comments Read More
Shifting population trends

Shifting population trends

A demographer at the University of Nebraska at Omaha released an interesting – and potentially significant – population analysis this week:

After years of draining people to the suburbs, Douglas County turned around a key population measure, attracting new residents and keeping more of them once they lived there a while. In short, the core of the Omaha metro area is becoming a more popular place to live.

One note about the analysis from the Center for Public Affairs Research: These numbers are at the county level, so they don’t pinpoint exactly what part of Douglas County has become more popular.

Still, this is a notable finding. If Omaha is to succeed in its redevelopment efforts east of 72nd Street, it needs to attract new residents and convince them to stay. Nice, costly developments simply won’t work if the residents, along with their shopping dollars, aren’t there to support them.

We’ve seen other anecdotal evidence of this kind of progress in Omaha’s redevelopment. So what do you think? Is Omaha becoming a more attractive place to live?

December 16, 2011 Comments Read More