Video 11 Mar 20 notes

I dabbled in SimCity back in the mid-1990s and really enjoyed the game.  While I was going through my Master’s in Public Administration, I trekked across campus to Knowlton Hall and the City & Regional Planning program to take a couple of classes.  One of the profs told me that up until a few years prior - she had a simulation that her students were required to run in the game because it was, surprisingly, one of the best simulators she could find.  That’s a ringing endorsement!

There’s a lot of aspects in this video that make the towns look sick as all get out - hell: there’s an appearance by a Krupp Bagger 288!  Plus, as a former trucker (I did more than a bit of truck-rail for a while) I really dig the containers and intermodal terminal operations that look pretty slick.

My primary concern is going to be if it’ll be supported on the Intel-based Mac OSX platforms (The Sims is, so I’m really hoping that they release a Mac version of SimCity as well as the PC one)


Electronic Arts bringing back ‘SimCity’ franchise after 10-year absence.

The new 3-D entry in the “SimCity” series is set for release next year for PC and will add the ability to construct curvy roads as well as introduce an online multiplayer mode that will allow one gamer’s digital city to affect neighboring towns created by other players.

“This is the first ‘SimCity’ where your city sits side by side with those of your friends playing in a region,” said Bradshaw. “The choices you make are going to directly impact their cities. You can cooperate to create regional aspects of your cities. Connect them together — or not. Be a polluter, and you’re ultimately going to affect your friends’ cities.”

Link 22 Jan 39 notes International NGO Strives for South Sudanese Food Security»

I’d like to take a moment to hock one of my friend’s blogs.  Kevin is a great guy working towards a goal that is distant yet, immensely important.  If you have any interest at all in working for an international NGO, in the agricultural policy arena, believe in food security OR just want to see what it’s like to make the most out of limited resources and see the impact that your work has on the day to day lives of the people you’re striving to assist.

Take a read through.  Follow him.  It’s good, meaningful work that’s flying under the radar of a lot of us who forget that there’s parts of the world where you still have to work for a meal and having sufficient food is not always a given.

(This work is part of a partnership between JG-MUST / Texas A&M and the South Sudan)

Link 15 Sep 31 notes East Franklinton Public Hearing Tonight»

Members of the public are encouraged to come to Dodge Park Recreation Center (667 Sullivant Avenue in Franklinton) tonight from 6-8pm to share their vision for the future of development in the area.

Link 14 Jul 1 note More on Scioto Mile / Downtown Development»

So, we all know that I just can’t say enough good stuff about all the positive development going on downtown.  While perusing ColumbusUnderground this morning, I came across this article and the following promising quote by Cheryl Huffman:

Recent market studies presented by Capital Crossroads have indicated spending potential in River South equates to eighty million dollars per year. With an influx of visitors, current residents, and day time employees merchandizing potentials include conveniences, as well as, dining and entertainment options for more than three hundred thousand area users per day.

Image credit: ColumbusUnderground

Myself, I’d love to see all of the connector streets Ms. Huffman references be developed (including Rich, Pearl & High) more heavily to increase the potential for the 43215, Mayor Coleman’s Op-Ed (which appeared on ColumbusUnderground here and I commented on here) indicates that the City is interested in focusing its development efforts elsewhere, now that the Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons are completed.  This is NOT to say that further efforts will not be made within a couple of miles of High & Broad Streets; but rather, that the City is a far larger area than that & more areas are in need of attention and as a result of limited resources, things may slow down downtown until some other areas have been invested in.

Link 4 Jul 10 notes Mayor Mike's Op-Ed on CU»

Justifiably so, Mayor Coleman is pretty excited about all the developments downtown, not the least of which include the recently opened Columbus Commons & The Scioto Mile (opening Thursday July 7th) and wanted to take an opportunity to highlight all that’s occurring in the 43215.

However, Columbus is more than just the downtown within a pair of miles from High & Broad (US23 & US40).  Mr. Coleman briefly touches on the plans for Weinland Park, OSUMC East, Franklinton and an array of strategic partnerships with regional agencies.

It’s my sincerest desire that these projects continue to pan out as well as Columbus Commons (though time will tell if that project continues to thrive and generate the community spirit it has since its opening) and I applaud the Mayor for taking his message directly to the young professionals and urban minded individuals following Columbus Underground.

Link 23 Jun 8 notes COTA's A Fan of New Hybrids»

Last year when COTA placed an order with Hayward, California bus manufacturer Gillig, they included 6 Hybrid (diesel / electric) buses in the order.  Now that the buses have been running for about a year, COTA has released some operating numbers.

From the Dispatch article linked above: some of the highlights (numbers from diesel only engines in parenthesis after hybrid numbers)

  • Average Miles / Month:     3,917 (3,941)
  • MPG:                                 5.5 (4.1)
  • Gallons Fuel / Month:        710 (910)
  • Operating Cost / Mile:      $0.57 ($0.72)

So - looking at these numbers: does it justify the additional $232,479 per bus cost for the hybrid? 

The jury’s still out.  But, based on the numbers above, these hybrids are costing approximately $1,787 / month less to operate (based on fuel and cost per mile savings - respectively, $1,200 and $587 / month).  If these numbers hold constant, COTA should break even at approximately 130 months.  Now, the agency will need to continue evaluating these hybrids against the diesel only buses that were purchased at the same time to see if these savings hold constant or end up costing more/less per mile to operate as they age.

COTA President & CEO Bill Lhota indicated that the agency is going to continue tracking the long-term maintenance costs and look at the environmental impacts before making the decision whether or not to order more during their next buying cycle.  This purchase and continuing evaluation are made possible, in part, to a federal grant giving the agency $2.1M to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles.

Additionally, THE ohio state university’s Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) began receiving its new 2011 Gillig LowFloor buses this week.  As of today, 2 have been delivered, and the University will be receiving 2 hybrids in this order of approximately a dozen buses.  (I know this first hand, as a driver for CABS - I’ll post some pictures of the new hybrids when they’re delivered).

Text 12 Jun 27 notes Representative Weiner

Representative Anthony Weiner (D - NY 9th District) has recently come under scrutiny for his cyber-sexcapades with a number of young women.  In politics there’s a saying: “nothing you did is as bad as trying to cover it up"… 

I applaud Rep. Weiner’s refusal to step down & resign.  Mr. Weiner did not break any laws by engaging in this behavior - some may think it’s unethical, but that’s another matter entirely.  My only issue is that the Representative from New York didn’t just own it from the get go and tried laying down the “my account was hacked” line… (which we all know how well that worked for Hayley Williams)

Throughout the past week, the one thing that I’ve heard far too often is “Oh, he’s a Representative, he shouldn’t be posing without his shirt on! We expect a certain level of decorum from a Member of The House!”

Really??? For sake of comparison:

Representative Weiner: photo.

Vladamir Putin (While President of Russia): photo / CBC article.

U.S. Representative Aaron Schock (R - Ill): Men’s Health Cover Photo.

And a sample from AOL’s Weird News: here.

Link 30 May 3 notes "New Polaris" Proposed in DelCo»

While the I-71 / US36/SR37 interchange lies 12mi above the Outerbelt, this project has potential to impact the (614). Another reason I bring up this article is because I know & worked with the Delaware County (DelCo) Director of Economic Development when he and I were both with the City of Delaware, Ohio. 

I think many of us support development and the jobs it brings through construction and permanent jobs, but I have a number of concerns:

1) The capacity of the interchange - anyone who has driven north from the city up to 36/37 knows how backed up the interchange can become, especially during the evening rush hour.

2) The Northstar Development is already in place up there and as far as I could tell when I was up at the golf club last year, hasn’t been terribly successful in this current market.  There are some businesses that have succeeded around that interchange - most notably two truck stops and A.D. Farrow Harley-Davidson - but otherwise, I’m not sure that the area can handle two Polaris-style developments within 10miles of each other in DelCo.

3) This is being pitched as a mixed use development, but as Xing Columbus points out - it will just barely be mixed use.  John (from Xing Columbus) says: 

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I’m imagining another shopping mall, huge offices, and big box retail separated by wide, high-speed roads with no sidewalks and giant parking lots.  Except now there will be a token residential component (800 housing units) to be “more diverse.”

I can’t shake the feeling that he’s probably right on this one.

4) In the event that this succeeds, it could hurt Polaris.  While both would be situated in DelCo, this is unlikely to hurt their tax revenues, but it could be troublesome for the neighboring areas that lie in Franklin County.

When I think of development in an area, I often ask if we really need to bring in more giant heat-sinks in the form of parking lots, soon to be empty big-box store skeletons, and national retail operations.  The proposed plan for the downtown mixed-use development Columbus Commons is the model that I would actively endorse.

This project is closer to the populous & readily accessible via public transit, foot or bike. There’s green space instead of asphalt. The proposal calls for 1st floor tenants that will mostly be local / regional businesses while all remaining development heading upwards will be residential space.  Additionally, this is a good use of a smaller footprint by building upwards instead of the typical low, suburban sprawling style.  Finally, the Commons is an inspiring example of cooperation among a variety of entities including the City of Columbus, the owners of the Fifth-Third Tower, Ohio Theater / CAPA and other downtown interests.

Link 29 May 2 notes Rain Impacts New MetroPark & April Attendance »

With 7.14” of rain, April 2011 set the all time record for wettest April in Columbus and thus far,  the wet stuff is falling at an above average rate. In addition to the high rivers and flooding we’ve been reading about, various local construction projects have also been impacted.  As an employee of THE ohio state university, I have seen the Olentangy River jump its banks numerous times and flood the construction occurring just south of the Drake Union north of the John Herrick Bridge.

Another major impact of the rain has been on the Franklin County MetroParks System.  The new Walnut Woods MetroPark in southeast Columbus, near Groveport, is looking at another delay in its opening thanks to the wet weather hampering construction crews’ ability to build trails and erect the necessary buildings on the site.

The rain has also lead to a pretty steep decline in the numbers of citizens taking advantage of the Park system with all parks other than Pickerington Ponds (77% increase) experiencing a decline (ranging from 9% to 66% lower) in patronage as compared to April 2010.

Link 29 Apr 6 notes I-71 Split Project Should Be Under Budget and Take 1yr Less Than Planned»

Westerville based construction corporation Kokosing and Columbus designer CH2M came in at $41M under the State’s original estimate and anticipates finishing Phase I of the project 1yr ahead of ODOT’s original plan.  The total project will take place over a number of years in 3 phases and is anticipated to cost north of $550M.

In addition, this plan will allow for roads crossing over the freeway that can be modeled after “The Cap” above I-670 where High Street Crosses.  This can provide a much needed impetus to development in the area along the Inner Belt near the Long Street area of downtown.

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