Redevelopment Commission: Time (And Documents) Heal All State Street Wounds

Feb 4, 2016

The President of the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission says he wasn't wrong to question the transparency of the State Street project, but he's now satisfied with it.
Credit Brian Hefele / https://www.flickr.com/photos/brhefele/6973020335

Though tensions flared last month between the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission and the board in charge of the city’s $120 million plan to overhaul State Street, the mood between the two was decidedly calmer at a meeting Wednesday night.

Just two weeks ago, the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission condemned those leading the ambitious State Street Redevelopment Project for their lack of transparency regarding its cost and scope. Commission President Larry Oates went so far as to call for a withdrawal of funding.

The mood during Wednesday’s meeting laying out what the city will get for its money was more convivial, with Oates praising the Joint Board for its time and cooperation.

What had changed? Oates says after last month’s meeting, the Joint Board—comprised of representatives from Purdue and the City of West Lafayette—had made more information about the project available, proving the time-honored chestnut that it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the supporting documents.

"It was the constant pressure that was being applied that was able to get that information out," Oates says.

West Lafayette City Engineer Dave Buck insists the Joint Board simply couldn’t release that information before last month’s meeting because of the competitive bidding process.

"If we would have made documents that we had the option to make public earlier, both teams would have been able to know that and know what the others were bidding before the decision and scoring was completed," Buck says.

However, those bids had been turned in – and the bid process closed – months before the January meeting.

And state law says the boards in charge of so-called “build-operate-transfer” deals are not required to keep the process secret.