The latest plans to development the river corridor with the STEAM Park proposal looks like we keep trying to fit a size 10 foot in a size 8 shoe. The recently released feasibility study notes that $9 million – 28 percent of the estimated $32 million cost of building at the planned location – will go to providing site access, with tunnels under Camino del Rio, extending current streets, parking, realignment of the river trail and potential changes to Camino del Rio. If somebody is going to spend a ghastly sum of somebody else’s money to redevelop a property that currently isn’t available for a project to be built at an undetermined time in the future, can’t a site that works better than the current fire station location be proposed?
Besides, the current fire station location is the best site for the future, new downtown fire station with a lease of land from what should be a cooperative city government. Otherwise, the fire district has to find and pay for another downtown location with money it doesn’t have. A new fire station at that location doesn’t have $9 million in access issues to overcome.
The STEAM Park is a great idea, but a more appropriate location might get more support. A better river location for a new arts and performance center is the aging fish hatchery property. No street realignment, no changes to the river trail, no tunnels under Camino del Rio. A great complement to the new library nearby. The property isn’t currently available, and the money doesn’t exist today for a new fish hatchery – just like the fire station location for a new STEAM Park. But at least the foot fits in the shoe at that location – and will be considerably more stylish. Rather than forcing a critically located fire station to move, maybe our city and state representatives should pursue a long-term plan to find city and state money to fund and move the fish hatchery out near Lake Nighthorse and make that more feasible river property available.