This week, the armory project will once again be on city council's agenda. This time, council will be asked to put a call out for bids on the project.
What project you ask?
Well, I can't share the details because the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is still working on a business plan. That means we're not even really sure what final shape the facility will take.
A lot of folks stop me and tell me I have to "support the armory." I do. But voting to spend money to request bids on a project that lacks scope or details isn't good for the armory and it's not good for Marietta.
If you called a contractor and told them you wanted some work done on your house, but you didn't have blueprints, they'd tell you to call back. Similarly, a business owner requesting a bank loan without a solid business plan would be turned away until the bank felt comfortable with the investment. Why should we treat your tax dollars any differently? The CVB has committed to work on a business plan and I think that is a positive step, but it makes no sense to go out to bid before that plan is completed.
When I tell people I support the armory, I'm talking about supporting a viable armory. I want this project to result in a facility that brings value to the community for years to come. We won't get that by rushing into getting bids before the plan is even completed.
The people seeking to move forward without a plan aren't looking for a viable armory, they're looking for headlines during a campaign season. This fabricated urgency simply propagates a series of bad decisions that have already stalled this project for years.
The entire situation reminds me of the municipal court project. Against some people's wishes, I requested that city council take its time on that project as well. After learning of some HVAC design elements that could have cost taxpayers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, changes were made and taxpayer dollars were saved. And now the municipal court project is well under way.
People often accuse government of moving too slowly, and I agree that it does move slowly at times. The answer isn't to proceed recklessly for the sake of speed. The answer is to act prudently considering what is best for the successful completion of the project. Bad government moving fast is still bad government, and I believe going out to bid on the armory project before we have a sustainable business plan is bad government.
We are under a time crunch with some grant money, but the deadline is next July. There's no reason we can't allow the CVB to complete their work on a business plan, compile the details, and get the ball rolling before next July - with full knowledge and complete disclosure about the scope of the project.
I support the armory and look forward to seeing the CVB's business plan. I hope to see the project through to completion, but what we have now is certain parties asking to go out to bid on a project for which the details aren't known. I cannot, and will not, support bad government - at whatever speed it's moving.
Jon Grimm is 3rd Ward Marietta City councilman.