Today, there's still no road. Not even a sewage permit. No highway occupancy permit. The best Perin could do, was a temporary driveway permit, and that didn't happen until December.
Instead of those well paid industrial positions, Perin lured yet another Wal-Mart and Lowes to the Lehigh Valley. Industrial development suddenly morphed into mostly commercial development with low-paying jobs. Slate Belt residents erupted. County council nevertheless remained committed to its $3 million investment. It was happy to destroy environmentally sensitive lands in the 'burbs for jobs that pay less than a courthouse worker's shrinking salary.
This became an issue in the last county council campaign. Lamont McClure demanded that council show "leadership to preserve the quality of life in the Slate Belt and take back this bond money now." He was joined by Charles Dertinger and Diane Neiper, but they all mysteriously changed their minds once they were in office. The resisted repeated attempts to transfer that money to other capital projects with major cost overruns.
While county council nixed any attempt to kill this project, over $440,000 in bond money was wasted on engineering studies.
Last week, Wal-Mart nixed the project itself. It's not coming. Nothing is. The only business in six years at this site is a scrap metal business owned by developer Perin. It employs less than thirty workers. Perin remains convinced he can make a go of things.
Council chambers were packed last night with seventy people demanding that this insanity stop. And Council may finally see the light at the end of this road to nowhere. They appear ready to yank the remaining money. Council member Tony Branco reported that he took a little tour of the site last weekend, and noticed that nothing has happened since July.
But Council Prez Wayne Grube, previously a stubborn supporter of this project, has finally thrown in the towel. His own words.
"This was a mistake. We've had it with that project. We've heard it four or five times. Let's go do what has to be done to try and recoup our money. I've had it. I openly admit that I made a mistake, and that'll be on our boy's blog tomorrow."
Gee, thanks, Wayne! I didn't know you cared.
Grube openly admits making an error that cost taxpayers $440,000. And his backroom maneuver to replace Ann McHale as VP has alienated me and many others. But even I would agree he's being a little tough on himself. He honestly believed something good would come from this investment. He's been sold a bill of goods, and is now courageous enough to admit it. Who can't admire and respect that? Grube is the only member of any council I've watched who can admit when he screws up. And he screws up a lot. But it's still refreshingly honest. Having said that, I hope he makes every effort to get the remaining $2.6 million back in county coffers. We'd all agree that a $440,000 mistake is infinitely preferable to one that costs us $3 million.
Speaking of mistakes, Councilman Lamont McClure is hot on the trail over that $100,000 theft from the criminal division. Of course, someone has been charged and is being prosecuted. But that won't stop Lamont. Last night he was tongue-lashing Controller Paul Schimmel. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the elections this year. Just good government. More about his bullying next week.