Evansville City Councilmen Explain How They Will Vote on the Downtown Hotel

City Councilmen John Friend and Dan Adams write letters explaining why they will vote No on the Convention Hotel Project,
A Downtown Hotel Decision 9 13 

For many months, I have consulted those experts here and without about the downtown convention hotel. The time for my decision on this matter is here. I believe strongly that our fair City has a limited number of "golden eggs" of leverage sources for urban development. Although a hotel next to the Centre has some shimmering merit, it also has much risk. In light of the added burden of the EPA mandated, soon-to-increased water and sewer rates on our people AND in harmony with my 2011 campaign promise to my constituents to go slow with new public money spending, I know our "golden eggs" must be used very carefully and parsimoniously with most value to guarantee success. By placing them in the new expanded medical school project basket (IUMS-Evansville)…something I know from a lifetime of experience…, I can assure the taxpayers and my colleagues that our limited monies will be best spent. Right now, we have the convention hotel cart before the new downtown medical school horse. 

That powerful, only-one chance for urban renewal will have its RFP come forth at Thanksgiving and the new medical school's location should be decided hopefully by Valentine's Day 2014, some four months away. Its construction would begin in 2015, which would allow the bond debt of the Centre to be paid off in 2018. A financial breather for us all would be allowed. 

As our local history teaches us, hotels can come and go. Our projected medical school with its 1200 students, 130 residents, an exciting simulation center, a minimum of four or more hospitals and four major educational institutions is forever ! Thus, I know for the best bang for our buck, we must put all of our "eggs" in the downtown medical school basket first. City supported downtown hotels (then requiring very low equity input), parking garages, new living space, many permanent good paying jobs, guaranteed urban growth and a hundred years' worth of superbly trained medical personnel will most certainly follow, as it has in Scranton PA, Atlanta, Grand Rapids and many other locales. Many will criticize me for my lack of vision. I contend that vision is exactly what I am providing. 

At this point in time, I will vote No on the present downtown convention hotel. 

H. Dan Adams, MD MBA Evansville City Councilman At Large.

Response From John Friend

Over the past several months, I have struggled with the proposed convention hotel, especially the financial commitment that would be required to make this happen. In light of the many financial challenges of our community; considering that I must act as a gatekeeper of the public financial well being, prioritizing projects is essential. Consequently, at this time, I will not be able to support the proposed hotel. Once we have determine the magnitude of our commitment to mandatory expenditures, emphasis on the Downtown Medical School, I may be supportive for a convention hotel provide it meets our budgetary constraints and makes good common sense. This decision has not be easy knowing that our community must move forward and I will always be mindful of this noble cause. I will be totally committed and will support the administration's efforts in locating Indiana University's Medical School in our Downtown. This has to be our number one objective.

Sincerely,

John Friend
Finance Chairman
Common Council of Evansville, IN
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