I would like to highlight ten documented assertions that support immediate shut-down of the project as constant propaganda about new jobs, mythical hi-tech tenants, and a phantom university that has never materialized.
Juniper Ridge has created zero new jobs in the past 5 years.
Les Schwab was touted by the city as a 350-person employer in 2006-7, but they have recently downsized to approximately 290. Therefore, an argument could be advanced that Jr has created negative 60 new jobs (60) in 5 years at a cost exceeding $500,000.00 per lost job. (Including debt, land value & state incentives)
Hi Tech Companies
There are zero new hi-tech / scientific research companies currently located at / or contracted for siting at Jr. Continual City banter about all kinds of mystery shoppers has not met the checkbook test.
There has been zero documented progress toward a new university at JR. As a matter of fact, the state recently disclosed that they are hundreds of millions in arrears for badly needed repairs at existing schools, and that 4 failing state colleges may be folded into U of O due to financial duress. Likewise, OSU Cascades has underperformed vs. expectations.
The city recently disclosed that $443,700.00 has been expended for legal fees at Juniper Ridge between FY 2005 and FY 2009. This is on top of $392,770.00 for FY 08/09 alone wasted on in-house and administrative support for the project.
It is well publicized that the City wasted nearly $3 million on Juniper Ridge Partners prior to their termination. What is less well known is that Bend has squandered an additional $433,000.00 on a batch of useless consultants between FY 05 and FY 09 according to city records with no known benefit to the public who pays the tab.
According to recently obtained records from the City, Les Schwab paid $7 per sq. ft.
(Fraction of fair value) for their phase 1 purchase of 12 acres. These same records indicate that the city (taxpayers) will pay approximately 1 million in SDC's from future land sales, (more debt) and Schwab pays nothing. This should make folks who play by the rules very happy.
The City should not have sited a chemical company with Suterra's dubious history near 3 schools. Their purchase price of $7.00 is an affront to taxpayers who own the land, and $332,796.00 for SDC's (water, sewer, street) equates to 1/3 of the charge quoted for a modest grocery store on Bend's SE side. Why was this amount mysteriously absent from the sale agreement? Does this revelation embarrass the City?
Former City Manager Anderson, Juniper Ridge Partners, and Mr. Fixit Man, Ron Garzini, have all disappeared from the scene at a cost to taxpayers of millions. Now, Our Manager of Economic Development suddenly leaves his $111,000.00 position. What does this revolving door tell us about the city's hiring / Mgmt. capabilities?
Why can't Bend understand that Juniper Ridge is landlocked and it will be for years? There is no way to move high volumes of traffic in or out even if Microsoft was dumb enough to relocate there tomorrow! Bend's great relationship with ODOT hasn't built any interchanges, and 50 trips times 6 in their new MOU is as worthless as the paper it's written on.
The massive debt at Jr includes 3.7 million for 20 years at 4.09% to finance the roundabout. Interest on that piece alone exceeds $150,000.00 annually. Interest on short-term debt of 6 million is costing us another 90,000.00 annually.
Now, the Council plans to start borrowing from the general fund as if it's not broke already!
Draw your own conclusions about this unmitigated disaster. I would certainly welcome a public or private response from any city official who disagrees with any or all of these assertions.
The author is a semi-retired human resources and sales manager who lives in Deschutes County. He is a longtime critic of the city's Juniper Ridge project.