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     The transcript of Ms. Fitzgerald’s exchange at Tuesday’s city council meeting continues below and begins following the last question from Wade-El in yesterday’s portion of the transcript.
Cohen – So, in the one meeting that we had with R&R we were fairly adamant that cost was an issue with the project and they should take cost into consideration when developing their feasibility study. Like any vendor, like any project, there will be a negotiation that if they do come in at $800,000 and the budget is at $600,000, we will need to negotiate and figure out a way to cut the – either – I mean either it has to go one way or the other. We either have to fund more or find the funding to do it or we need to do – they need to do changes to bring it into budget.
Wadel-El – So just to be clear, you’re not going to be – I don’t mean for this to sound combative though I know that it does – you’re not going to be standing in front of me here a year from now telling me why this project cost $1.1 million dollars? This particular piece like the façade piece? Just because I keep getting from multiple people this $800,000 and the $350,000. I just want to know that what we are talking about in some kind of secure fashion is, in fact, $600,000 dollars and it’s not going to be a year from now that it’s going to be $1.1 million – just so we’re all straight on the facts.
Cohen – Yes, at the Parking Authority we have been very consistent from day one – their preliminary budget was $600,000 for the project. So if they’re coming in greater than that, as I said, they will have to figure out a way to work within that budget or there will have to be a way for additional funding to cover it. Our intention is with all the pieces that are being bid, all the costs for this project, that they will need to figure out a way to stay within budget.
Wade-El – Thank you, Mr. Cohen. I feel like you are warming up over there, mayor.
Sorace – Yes, just to underscore the fact that the budget that was presented with R&R was based on a conceptual design. It is not the final design. The final design will be billed within a budget of $600,000. There is no wiggle room on that. There is no come back to council. There is no other money laying around for this. This was money – the reason why I think this is an opportunity and why art is integrated into architecture – is that there is not a budget for public art. This is integrated into the construction of the building. If this wasn’t there, there would be some other element that would cost $600,000 dollars. This is a one-for-one exchange for the screening that would go over the front of the garage. There are stipulations related to that screening. It cannot be a wall. It has to be ventilated. It has to withstand certain wind. All of these other things that are part of the architectural and engineering that needs to also go through a process in addition to the public art.
     So I just want to restate that because there are questions about this – the budgeted money – and we are setting the budget  – actually, not us here – the Lancaster Parking Authority in consultation with Walker, who builds garages. In consultation with Benchmark Construction which is the – what is the term du jour…
Cohen – Project manager.
Sorace – They are the project manager but they are also assuming all of the risk…
Cohen – Construction manager.
Sorace – Construction manager and risk for meeting the budget. Is that correct?
Cohen – Correct.

Fitgerald – So just to clarify – you are giving me your word, Mayor Sorace, that we will stay within the $600,000 budget even though the conceptual proposal came in at $800,000? And I would just have one brief question to follow up. If the one-and-a-half million CRIZ money doesn’t come through for the next 20 years, who does that debt fall on?

Reichenbach – Thank you, ma’am.

Fitzgerald – For the bond?
Reichenbach – Thank you. Appreciate your public comment. It’s not a back and forth. I will allow her to answer if she has the time but I want to give other people a public comment period as well. So if Mr. Delfs – if you want to comment or Mr. Cohen?
Delfs, city director of community planning and economic development – I just wanted to clarify one part of the question. The initial concept rendering from R&R studios that we are all familiar with – that was created before R&R Studios was given a final budget. So they will have to work within the $600,000 budget they were provided with. Thank you.
Reichenbach – Mr. Cohen.
Cohen – For clarification, the debt is of the Parking Authority. The Parking Authority issued bonds of 29 and a half or so million dollars. So the burden is on the Parking Authority to pay that debt with the support of the CRIZ dollars.
Reichenbach – Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for answering the question.

UPDATE 11-15-19 –  The remainder of Ms. Fitzgerald’s comment to city council will come later today.


    The beginning of the exchange between Ms. Fitzgerald and the city council members at Tuesday’s city council meeting is below. The rest will come tomorrow – and it gets even better!
Reichenbach – Good evening.
Fitzgerald – Hello. I’m _____ Fitzgerald and I sent you all a couple of questions earlier today. The number one question is – I got to read the proposal that R&R put forth and their estimate for the west façade was $800,000 dollars. And I’ve heard Larry Cohen speak publicly more than once saying that the façade would cost $600,000 dollars no matter what was included in the façade.
     So my question is – which is it – and who would hold R&R responsible for staying within that budget? I understand we’ve already floated a $29 million dollar bond to pay for the construction of this garage and that we’re counting on one-and-a-half million dollars per year for the next 20 years beginning next year to pay this bond back. And that’s going to be CRIZ money which we hope comes forward.
     So, as a resident of the city, I’m concerned about the budget. I’m concerned about the lack of accountability in the R&R proposal. It said, very clearly, that their say goes – no one else’s. It is their art. You can’t tell them what to do. It’s their conception, their vision; however, we’re supposed to be telling them to do it for $600,000 dollars instead of $800,000 dollars? And then that doesn’t even include the other corners that were going to cost $350,000 dollars? So the proposal was over a million dollars. Who’s going to hold the budget and what is the number going to be?
Reichenbach – Thank you, ma’am.
Fitzgerald – If you have an answer I want to hear it!
Wade-El – Can I get Chris, Larry, somebody to give me like a definitive answer on that? Just in front of the whole body. Somebody – I don’t care who it is. Larry, thank you.
Cohen – Larry Cohen from the Parking Authority. The budgeted amount for the artwork is equal to 2% of the budget for the project which is approximately $30 million dollars so the budgeted amount for the art is $600,000.
Wade-El – Thank you, and just to answer the rest of Ms. Fitzgerald’s question, what happens if R&R comes back and says, “Well, we think it’s going to be $720,000 dollars actually?”



     Janet Diaz, the absurd headline in today’s LNP print edition, James Reichenbach.

     Kudos to Janet Diaz again for being the only one willing to deviate from the company line. Reichenbach [Council President James Reichenbach] voted no in what felt like an insult vote to all the well spoken residents, as he spent all night defending the art and then did not support Janet Diaz’s motion to delay approval to allow a more definitive concept to be presented for approval. He got very defensive while repeating a blatant lie that the City wouldn’t be on the hook for all this cash if the CRIZ dries up sometime over the next 20+ years. Good riddance, glad that his time on council is coming to an end.
Part of an excellent comment into this site under yesterday’s post.
     Exactly! Reichenbach’s behavior was bizarre and unacceptable. And Diaz is the only one on that council with a backbone. Good for her!
Please check back later today.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m so confused what benchmark is actually doing related to this project.

    Originally it seemed that they were slated to be the General Contractor. Then LNP made it out that they were more of a subject expert to represent the owner during project execution and the project execution would be through a different GC.

    Now with comments indicating that they bear the all the risk, does that mean they are the General Contractor again? What contract has actually been issued by the parking authority to Benchmark? Does that mean Benchmark actually has ultimate and final control of the art with the only incentive to make it as cheap as possible?

    I have no idea what is going on.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And what did Mayor Dickina have to say?

    • Anonymous says:

      Here you go again, Mayor Dickina, is it because you loathe a women in political power and won’t call her by her name?! As if Mayor Sorace can not make her own decisions she has to copy a male?! Take off the lenses of your colonial privilege.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have lost any ability to differentiate between satirical comments and serious ones.

      • Anonymous says:

        She’s a clone of Mayor Dick. You know, it is possible to point out what a sh*t job she’s doing and not have anything to do with gender.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ahhhh.The house of cards that IS Lancaster is falling one card at a time. No reason for art, more parking, more hotel rooms, MAW, etc. because there is not one single reason to live, work, play or visit here. And bright lights and promises won’t change a thing. (Janis Ian)

  4. Jojo says:

    Anonymous……..none that I know of………I’m being sarcastic….and impeachment seems to be on everyone’s minds these days!!

    • Becky says:

      I don’t think Trump needs to come into this thread! 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Sarcasm, on the other hand, derives from Greek words that mean “tearing of the flesh.” Sarcasm is hostility disguised as humor. That’s why when someone says something sarcastic to you, you don’t feel good. Sarcasm is unsettling. If you challenge it, the person can say, “What? I was just kidding!” But it doesn’t feel like kidding. It feels like veiled criticism. Because that’s exactly what it is, regardless of its superficial deniability.

  5. Jojo says:

    I’m guessing that impeachment wouldn’t apply here???

  6. Anonymous says:

    As has been well established here, the CRIZ is an enormous scam. I still can’t believe the State has allowed it to go on as long as it has, but I still believe the clock is ticking and one of these days when PA State gov is in a serious budget crunch, legislators from other parts of the state are going to start wondering why millions of state taxpayer money are being shoveled into a few of Lancaster’s super wealthy. It will then quickly be extinguished as they will declare Lancaster officially revitalized and improved and no longer in need of the program.

    • redneck says:

      And that’s when the ConCenter, Marriotts and Ballpark will all close.

      • Anonymous says:

        Much as I hope you’re right, creative book keeping will keep on keeping on until they run out of options. Then the taxpayers will be forced to bail out the Con. The ones who profited from it will say “Oh well”.

        • huh? says:

          They’ll just keep building and tearing down and building like they’ve done over and over at Lancaster Square.

          And every time someone walks away with full pockets and zero guilty conscience.

    • Anonymous says:

      The State and Lancaster City Democrats in cohorts?! You sound like a right winger conspiracy theorist. Odd, you seem to be sure that the fix is in but the PA State AG’s office is just looking the other way. That’s rich!

      • Anonymous says:

        Smucker and Martin’s involvement in getting this setup and going makes it pretty clear CRIZ is a bipartisan Lancaster issue for the benefit of our bipartisan benefactors/betters.

        I’m saying some legislator from elsewhere in the state (doesn’t matter if R or D) that doesn’t get all this money is eventually going to question it in the event that the is a budget crunch, only question is when, mandating some painful cuts.

  7. disgusted says:

    Well, if there is any truth in rumors regarding James and Danene he damn well better tow the city line. What a bunch of sheeple!

    • my goodness says:

      If there is any truth to the rumors wouldn’t that be a huge conflict of interest?

    • Anonymous says:

      I bust out laughing everytime I read about the mayor and james lol! But if the rumors are real danene is something lol! Shes married to the vp of benchmark whos helped support her campaigns financially and also involved in major projects in city while she’s playing mayor. Benchmark shouldnt have any business dealings with the city. Now if the rumors are real with James, I can see why James reacted the way he did. I can also see the conflict of interest. Its almost like shes playing the Sims p.s game where you build your city but the the whole damn budget is off. And good for Janet thats 1 thing I love about her shes not a follower and shes not afraid to stand alone when it comes down to whats best for the people.

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