By Terra Curtis and Paul Supawanich, CityLab, 2014-07-10
"Critics of lean transportation planning will argue that the costs of failure are too high to risk implementing projects that might not work. We argue that that is precisely why we should learn from the lean approach. Planners could spend many years and lots of money to find out ideas aren't perfect, or we could spend a few hours, days, or weeks to try something and pivot based on what we learn."
Two weeks ago in the Friday digest Chuck posted a short story about the town of Chaska, MN moving forward to build a curling rink to attract development and economic activity downtown. I do economic developmenent feasiblity analysis for a living and did an initial review of the Chaska town budget. Surprise, surprise, after regular tax receipts they live off of development fee permit revenue to keep things going. I'm making an educated guess here that the town has done no analysis on how the future bond payments on this city owned facility will potentially threaten the entire budget when project revenue for a 4th curling rink in the same market does not match rosy projections. Heck, I don't think an actual market study was done, besides town officials visiting another curling facility.
I view this situation as a slow moving car wreck in the making and wanted to ask if anyone in the StrongTowns network lives near Chaska and would like to join me in trying to show town officials all the variables that are at play here as they execute the classic economic development play of building a single, large thing that is supposed to be a game changer. This is a community on the river, with an historic downtown and several parks, so it has plenty of building blocks for incremental development we all know is better.
Here is an example of analysis I did on a proposed parking garage in Providence, RI recently: