05/12/11 — Cart, then horse: Where is all this money coming from to fund the 'other' expenses of project?

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Cart, then horse: Where is all this money coming from to fund the 'other' expenses of project?

They are kidding, right?

This week, Goldsboro City Council took an option on the Arts Council of Wayne County's soon-to-be-former location on Ash Street.

The $25,000 "earnest money" the city put down on the purchase -- with the understanding that the city has until late June to decide whether to continue with the contract or not -- will be lost if the deal falls through.

And one has to wonder if it is going to fall through, once residents fully digest the import of yet another project, yet another purchase and yet another mind-numbing decision to drop money at a time when everybody else is watching and waiting to see what the final dispensation of the state and federal budgets is going to be.

We get that the city leaders say the money to make the initial purchase will come out of the tourism funds and that that money can only be used for tourism-related concerns.

And yes, it is possible that an Air Force museum would add a certain appeal to the city -- and that it might draw visitors and produce revenue.

And we have also heard the rumor that someone else was interested in the building -- and had submitted a bid for it, hence the mad rush to get this done.

But what is the real concern -- aside from the more than $1.4 million in renovations, which is a pretty hefty bill -- and the doubts about whether the building can actually house an Air Force museum -- is what happens after the building purchase.

There are bills that go along with running a museum and keeping a building on the books -- and those do have to be paid out of the city budget. It takes a while to make something like this profitable -- and it takes a great deal of planning and exploration of variables before jumping off the cliff. Has this due diligence been done? Is the city sure the community wants to take on this project right now, in this economic environment?

The answer seems to be "no."

City leaders are already talking about how they have not fully formed an idea for how they will make this museum idea fly -- and they admit they do not have firm support from any of the players who would have to be part of the effort.

And there certainly is a reasonable amount of doubt that the public is even interested in supporting this effort -- mostly because they, too, are unsure of the financial cards that are going to be dealt this year. In fact, this current idea is very similar to the Recreation Center for downtown idea -- you remember, the one we dropped all kinds of money creating a design for that ended up being something the community did not really support.

So why the hurry? Why not slow down, look harder and determine what it will really take to make this idea happen? Why not get partners in line first -- and then come up with a realistic proposal to present to the community?

There is time for the community to speak up -- the June date is still far enough away that modifications could be made.

You have heard the pitch. Is this what you want to see your city doing right now?

Published in Editorials on May 12, 2011 11:29 AM