Dear County Board Members:
I urge you to reject this proposed project until a careful review can be conducted. This is a terrible plan for many reasons. First, the failing condition of the dome has been clear for more than a decade. By failing to plan appropriately, DES is creating another unnecessary “emergency” that will end up costing taxpayers extra for the temporary, then the permanent structure.
DES exaggerates the dire consequences if they are not allowed to expand the dome capabilities in this location. They must provide the detailed basis for their claims that fleet effectiveness would be reduced by 30-40% and that there would be a “significant risk of exhausting salt supplies during an event”.
DES has not provided any alternatives that could be enacted until the permanent facility is planned. These could include a smaller temporary facility within the current site that might handle less salt but provide enough to storage to avoid any crisis. Another would be to set up several smaller temporary sites on County or APS land, such as the Madison Center parking lot or fields. A serious search for other sites should be conducted even if it isn’t DES’s preference based on only their convenience.
Finally, if DES gets the use of this land, there will be pressure to allow them to keep it in the future when planning for the permanent structure occurs. Why is rezoning essential? This land at the corner of Old Dominion and 26th street was designated as a park location when the houses on it were demolished. For five years, the Old Dominion Civic Association has been promised that it would be improved to provide more park facilities for their under-served neighborhood. The ODCA has a plan that would include natural areas as well as open space. The current plan for the temporary dome includes the removal of trees and other vegetation on the site. Some of the trees to be removed are ones that have been planted and replanted by the County for a decade. Further, if the trees are removed, an important resource for stormwater control and air quality as well as economic and social values will be removed.
This last minute, rush project is poorly thought through and executed. It will cost more money, cause disruptions in the neighborhood, hurt the environment, and break promises. Before any decision is made, a change in supervision and staffing responsibilities should take place within DES to assure you that you have full information and the citizens that all their interests are being taken into consideration to come up with the best solution.
Mary Wolter Glass