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Many roads to Robinwood: Part II

January 21, 2006|By J. Michael Nye

Bob Maginnis' article of Dec. 11, "Many roads to Robinwood," was disappointing. Everything he reported was true about what happened during our meeting with Gary Rohrer, the county's director of public works. However, he failed to report the important issues that were discussed and the conclusions reached.

To claim that Rohrer answered all my questions without saying what the answers were suggests to the reader that Rohrer's answers were acceptable and believable.

Maginnis failed to say that the funding for the U.S. 40/Edgewood Drive intersection is in jeopardy because the city government has pulled out of the agreement. The suggestion that developers pay a significant amount of infrastructure costs without details is misleading.

For example, Rohrer said the Valley Mall project only required the developer to pay $900,000 for a $5 million project (which is still not done eight years after the fact.) This is not a significant contribution. The hospital contribution of $1.7 million for about $30-plus million in projects is not a significant contribution.

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Maginnis' closing comment that Nye got a "fair hearing" is incredible! A hearing with Rohrer without the press covering my point of view or describing all of the issues we discussed misrepresents what happened at the meeting. The article refused to challenge Rohrer's public claims that all roads will be "fixed" by the time the hospital opens. This is, at best, dishonest reporting. Rohrer never limited his comments to only those few improvements in the traffic study.

I realize that Maginnis had a time constraint to get the article ready and perhaps limited space. These constraints do not justify not telling the complete truth with coverage of both sides of the issue.

At the end of the meeting, I summed up and asked that the following comment be included in Maginnis' article, which would have been easy to do and would have made the article more balanced:

"Out of 12 intersections that need work, only two are being considered, and out of seven roads that need upgrading, only two are being considered. This does not mean that the traffic improvements for the new hospital at Robinwood will be in place when the hospital opens, as Rohrer has promised and 'obligated' the county to do within the next three years."

The newspaper has given its readers the impression that the road issue is not a concern when it knows full well that all the roads will not be addressed in a timely manner. I feel like I have been used to perpetuate this program of misinformation and half-truths by hospital supporters, including county employees, and aided by the press. I was promised a balanced coverage of the issues, which is not what I got.

For the record, the following information was extracted from my written report of the meeting that was completed prior to the publication of Maginnis' article.

1. I asked why Rohrer was being so politically active in publicly "selling" the hospital project. He responded that James Hamill (hospital CEO) had requested that he participate and help with this effort. He said he was directed by County Administrator Rod Shoop, to assist where ever he could.

2. Rohrer said he had several meetings with James Hamill, the hospital's CEO, for the purposes of "fast tracking" this project for final approval. I asked if this meant taking short cuts or reducing requirements. His said fast-tracking simply rearranges milestones that make various approvals more timely.

He assured us no short cuts or special approvals apply and that all procedures, codes and county regulations will be followed. I guess he sees no problem in actively selling the project while at the same time being responsible in seeing that all codes/procedures/APFO Requirements/etc. are complied with.

3. Rohrer said he was proud of "partnering" with other developments in the past and is confident the hospital project will be as successful as other projects he has worked on. He cited the Valley Mall project (1997) which required a $5 million Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance investment, toward which he said Crown America was "forced" to contribute $900,000 to assist in a major intersection improvement.

The intersection was Halfway and Massey boulevards, a huge, existing bottleneck at the center of Valley Mall. When asked why eight years later the intersection has not yet been improved, he said they didn't have the money to fund it and therefore had to wait. While the county promised to do this quickly, it appears that the county's Capital Improvement Program shows a potential construction project of $4.5 million in fiscal year 2008.

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