More Of What Didn’t Happen

            The latest installment of Newark’s Property Maintenance opera reads like a Dilbert comic panel. The Newark Advocate (1-25-14) reports on the findings of a downtown property review by a Miami University student (Ally Kohler). The study was sponsored by the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority (who knew we had a harbor?). The article (Retail use stable; office space down: Port Authority sponsored city center review) gives some of the findings, in percentages, of property conditions, occupancy, use, etc. The area covered is roughly the same as that investigated by this blog (Ownership Of Downtown Newark 3-25-13) with the exception that Kohler’s study specifically elides ownership (just assumes someone owns it) while the study conducted by Analysis elided conditions and use of property. Analysis finds the percentage results given to be ambiguous. 25% of parcels are vacant, 22% are parking lots. Is that one and the same? If not, does that mean that 47% of downtown properties are not in use (though specifically owned by someone)? 52% of properties are rated in good condition (fits perfectly with the 47% unused) while 19% are unoccupied. Is an unoccupied property in good condition? Again, is a parking lot occupied or unoccupied, in good condition or poor?  (The car washes were still open and working in West Virginia during the water poisoning which was good for the economy) Maybe folks need to raise the cry “Occupy Newark!” Analysis tends to believe that is not exactly what the Port Authority has in mind (Analysis wonders if they have a harbor master on payroll. Maybe there’s an Unclaimed Freight Warehouse on the horizon).


            But Analysis covered all that in order to complete the Dilbert analogy. There he is, seated in his office, the manager (mayor) of the big company with his associate (the business owner, landlord developer extraordinaire) seated next to him and the bespectacled David, er, Dilbert standing there in his white shirt and tie sticking out (something so very un-David, especially since David is more blue collar, sans tie). Dilbert (David) has just reported to the manager (mayor) that only with the creation and rigorous enforcement of regulations and measures that have teeth will the properties in the city start to look better, attract tenants (occupants). Here’s the carefully engineered plan on how to accomplish that which you requested. The manager (mayor) launches into the oft repeated cliché tirade about how he was elected to do the people’s business and business is about being fiscally responsible. He should know (he was an accountant). He’s the manager and managing business is his business. We can’t afford doing anything that doesn’t work. What works “is keeping buildings occupied because the owners are then more likely to keep them properly maintained.” In the last panel his associate (the business owner, landlord developer extraordinaire) says doing what works is exactly what needs to be done. We could have done more.


            And that’s more of what didn’t happen.


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