Lents has called an emergency neighborhood association meeting tonight to discuss the issues swirling around Randy Leonard, Mayor Adams' and Merritt Paulson's pitch to use $42 million in Lent's urban renewal funds to cover 80 percent of the construction costs for a new Triple-A Beavers stadium out in Lents park.
The neighborhood association does not have any official say over whether or not the city taps the area's urban renewal funds to build the stadium but, of course, the political team behind the stadium would like to get the neighbors' support for the project (especially if they're outspoken and can provide their own colorful scarves).
But so far, the $42 million deal has been too complicated and divisive an issue for the neighborhood association to agree on a stance. The debate hinges on whether the new stadium is a smart investment for a major chunk of the funds that were originally slated for business revitalization, affordable housing, street and sidewalk repair and the redevelopment of Lents Town Center.
The draft budgets for Lents looks vastly different in stadium/no stadium scenarios. It's worth comparing the budgets yourself - the pdf of planned budget without putting money toward the stadium is here, the "stadium scenario" budget is here. But just to get you interested, here are some snapshots: each column is a year's worth of funding for the projects listed on the left, starting in 2009.
Affordable Housing budget if Lents doesn't fund the stadium and then if it does:
And originally planned business development funding and then with the stadium:
The slashed budgets could be viewed as just delays rather than cuts - hypothetically if the stadium gets built, the development projects won't go undone, they'll just be bumped several years in the future. If you live in Lents, stop by the meeting tonight: 7PM at Lents Elementary.