RDS- Rich Developer Syndrome- Where the assumptive power of money trumps common sensibility
After my last Substack post, a rambling rant on the manner in which the Boothbay roundabout was sold to the public, I got to thinking about how local leadership frequently exaggerates the amount of traffic on the peninsula or else projects a continual increase in traffic as if high traffic is a measure of progress, and as if the “progress” they envision is inevitable., and therefore can be superimposed on the present and demands can be made that something needs to be done about the projected future traffic congestion Now!- in the manner of a strategically planned self-fulfilling prophecy.
In the May 4th, 2021 article in the Boothbay Register, BRHT looks to Martha’s Vineyard’s housing model, Cindi Watson said the following while speaking for the Boothbay Region Housing Trust.
“They're (Martha Vineyard role model group- note by author) talking about an island and we're talking about a peninsula, they're talking about commuters coming over on the ferry,” said BRHT’s Cindi Watson. “But we're talking about the 4,000 cars that are commuting into Boothbay every day and leave.”
The figure of 4000 daily commuters into the Peninsula is not consistent with the figures found on page 59 of the Camoin report, which puts the combined number of those commuting into the peninsula and those commuting off the peninsula to work at under 3000.
These days, radical exaggerations are accepted without contest, even more so in the local forum than in the national culture in which lying to reinforce delusions is the new norm in high places. In the national forum, there is public analysis to counter fantastical assertions. In the local forum, the counter to baseless facts is not so out in the open, but nonetheless present in between the lines of the spoken word.
The Boothbay roundabout was sold as a solution for a fabricated traffic problem “which was only going to get worse because of the Botanical Gardens”.
The DOT grants the authority over the design to its private partner, in this case, Paul Coulombe. The design of the roundabout reconfigured local infrastructure in such a way that the road to and from the Botanical Gardens, now directly connects to the developing back roads to the developer’s country club that have gradually become more visible in the aftermath of the reconfiguration of the traffic patterns in the center of town.
Where I live I regularly drive past the Botanical Gardens. The traffic on the road is very light. If the traffic isn’t a problem, but politicians say it will be, because that is what they want, it is a form of political gaslighting. Am I to question my perceptions if I do not see a traffic problem, excepting at the intersection that no one is talking about?
There was and still is a traffic problem at the Center- that is the intersection of the Country Club Road and Route 27. The Country Club Road is also the road to the town dump and so it’s a well-traveled road intersecting with another well-traveled road, Route 27, the main throughway. During the summer traffic coming and going on Route 27 is heavy and there is often a long wait before a break opens. If, as politicians tell us, the traffic is only going to become more, the traffic obstructing the Country Club Road intersection will only become worse and worse and there is nothing to be done about it, except to switch more Country Club traffic over to using the intersection at the roundabout, but that doesn’t help the other traffic using the busy intersection.
The intersection would be well-served by a traffic light.
The only advantage to the roundabout is that if the traffic is heavy when trying to turn left at the exit of the former four-way stop, one can drive around the roundabout to get to the other side of the road- but that could have been solved by a traffic light at the busy intersection of Country Club Road and Route 27 and at much less expense than the Colombe solution.
One traffic light would have solved both the merge from Corey Lane and the congestion at the busy intersection, by creating a pause in the traffic so the merging traffic could get through.
A faux traffic issue was invented, while a real traffic issue was ignored, and now that there is a roundabout a short distance from the busy intersection, it is no longer practical to place a traffic light where one is needed at the busy intersection as the traffic might back up and clog the roundabout, especially if, as politicians tell us, traffic is going to increase. The more traffic, the greater the possibility that a light at the busiest intersection will cause that traffic to back up into the roundabout, clogging up the system.
How is that for poor planning? Something we should bear in mind as plans for a fifty-million-dollar school is being pushed on the community involving many of the same players, particularly Mr. Coulombe.
It’s not just a bad road design, it is also a mass delusion. Rich Developer Syndrome, and it is still infecting the community- and there is no vaccine!
The roundabout is a construct that serves as a visual delusion. All intersections converging in a single hub create an exaggerated appearance of busy traffic, camouflaging a dysfunctional infrastructure design, which can only become more dysfunctional if traffic increases.
I harp on the roundabout for good reason. It was brought into being with a manipulative process at great taxpayer expense. Today the peninsula is facing an even more expensive project in the proposed fifty-million dollar school- or- a fifty-million dollar centrally managed industrial training center, as this is the evolution of public education in the USA in the twenty-first century, a far cry from government limited to enumerated powers. (See No Plan? Or Just Not Saying? Boothhbay's Unfunded Fifty-Million-Dollar School. Time to Visualize An Alternative Way by author.)
The previous update on the school reported that the funding to pay for the architects, pledged by Mr. Coulombe, did not materialize as promised. There is no plan to date to fund the project, other than a donation link on the website, which is a method that politically advantages the wealthy to advance their own agenda on a community where few alternative approaches get a hearing.
Strategic Inevitability Planning
Now there is a new update in the Boothbay Register on the plans for instituting a fifty million dollar public school system on the peninsula. The article reports plans to extensively move ahead with the planning phase as if money is no object and to have a public referendum on it in the year 2023, because, as politicians tell us, “community involvement is crucial”.
There is no mention in this article about financing, not the two and a half million dollars to pay the architects and not the fifty million dollars. That is because the CDS, amid talk about unconditional gifts, voted to separate the funding and the planning-as in - ”Go ahead and plan for the school system of your dreams- cost is not an issue!",
The separation of planning from costs is a symptom of RDS- Rich Developer Syndrome! Not only did the committee decide to disconnect design and construction planning and costs planning, but there is not so much as a contingency plan about what to do if at any phrase the cost planning meets a glitch. It’s one thing to say, “we have a promise of an unconditional gift so let’s just move ahead with planning” and another to continue with the planning phase and publicly promoting it after it is known that the unconditional gift has not materialized, assuming that the planning committee has a minimal level of communication with the financing committee.
The decision to separate the design and building planning from cost planning was initiated by Committee member Ruth Macy as an amendment, The original recommendation was to proceed with the plan upon receipt of the” unconditional gift”, or when that money was in hand.
Ruth Macy said “If we want taxpayer buy-in, which I really think we need at every stage, we need to be able to know, handle and manipulate this information so … you can say ‘…we are supporting a K-12 because it's the right decision for our school at this time and it fits with our building master plan,”
CSD greenlights concept design phase for new school 02/13/2021 02/13/2021
Macy’s amendment split the concept from the funds. The school committee voted in approval of Ruth Macy’s amendment 4-2 with Stephanie Hawke and John Bertolet dissenting; it was approved by the trustees 3-2 with Chair Steve Lorrain and Hallinan dissenting, but after a long discussion both boards voted for the amended recommendation, to move forward with the concept design phase. Only committee member Bruce MacDonald dissented. '”
John Bertolet explained his change of opinion: “The opportunity to do this with no risk at all to the taxpayers will not be there forever”. It is assumed that “no risk at all to the taxpayers” is a reference to the pledge by Mr. Coulombe to come up with the two and a half million dollars by a fundraising campaign, which at last reporting, did not materialize on schedule.
We are witnessing the effects of the Ruth Macy Amendment. Since it was voted to separate the concept design from the means to finance it, we are now reading about future plans with no mention of what is happening with the unmanifest two and a half million dollars.
This is how a community infected with RDS operates.
Are we to assume that the funding has been resolved but the resolution is unreported to the public?
Or, should we speculate that since the committee voted to separate planning and financing that there is no communication between the two, what so ever, and one hand does not know what the other is doing?
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