This week’s IBJ hit the mailbox with approximately three full pages devoted to a potential downtown transit hub.
That much space was needed to discuss the necessities of design, what such a facility would do for surrounding economic activity, what amenities should be included in the building, etc, etc, etc.
The operation of actual handling of transit vehicles and their passengers seemed to us, in this article at least, to be getting much less attention than the need for a spectacular architectural design rather than just a "bus station."
But to get back to the title of this essay, what does seem to be typical of public planners in this city is the content of the very first paragraph of the story.
"Here’s what we know: Bus service provider IndyGo and an international superstar architect will create a $17 million transportation hub..." (Our emphasis.)
So, "what we know" - without even any basic preliminary planning information about the structure itself - is that it will cost $17 million dollars. There may be a problem with the meaning of the word "we" in this case. If the author of the story means the taxpaying public, he's way off target. "We" certainly don't know what, and for how long, things have been cooking in the mayor's kitchen. But not to worry. The big chunk of the cost will be some "free" federal money.
We are also assured that "...the fee for architectural and engineering services will not exceed...about $190,000." Isn’t that actually pretty chintzy for an "international superstar" who has offices in New York City, Zurich, Switzerland, and Milan, Italy.
On the other hand, quotes in this very same IBJ story from the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune indicate other efforts by the same gentleman have not always been happily received.
We’d be willing to bet that there are at least a half dozen firms within Indianapolis, or certainly within Indiana, who very adequately could handle the required aesthetic and functional necessities of this building. Even if "buy locally" made no difference financially, wouldn’t it be nice to show off our "world class" people?
But, what the hell. When you’re spending public dollars, especially those free federal dollars, you really have to go all out to impress the folks - in Zurich and Milan. Why go with a "merely adequate" Cadillac when someone else’s money will buy you a Rolls Royce?
What a pity this downtown project could not have been linked with Georgia Street. Purchase of five bus tickets gets you a free trip on the zip line? That would bring in the riders!