Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gazette Article Brings Clarity to Costco Issue

The Gazette posted an article on its website this morning that I think brings some clarity to the issue of the $4 million subsidy to Costco.  It explains the county fund that this money would be coming from and also points out the amount of county funds that Westfield has received over the past few years for projects on their property.

The only item that I find surprising/confusing is that Ike Leggett was able to sign an agreement between the county and Westfield agreeing to give them $4 million prior to the county council approving any such funding.  I readily admit that I'm not an expert on how these things work in the county, so maybe this isn't so unusual.  Was there a disclaimer in the agreement saying that it was contigent on the council approving the funds?

I certainly don't have a problem with Wheaton receiving alot of the money from the county's Economic Development Fund, but I would prefer that this money goes towards projects that encourage use of public transit and create a more walkable downtown.


  1. This 'agreement' just became public at the PHED Committee meting on April 25 and is contingent on the Council's approval and the appropriation of the funds.
    I find the date this was signed to be particularly disturbing based on the media blitz from ED Director that began last year to sell this, implying that this 'agreement' was legally binding and was a done deal. Clearly it never was and was merely a hand shake until March 18, 2011. Seems a little after the fact to me, perhaps based on the waning support of this Council, who knows.
    Living in a community directly across Univ. Blvd.from Westfield (McDonalds), I have to say, I certainly want Wheaton to re-develop, but question the wisdom of such a grant for a hugely profitable corporation in these challenging economic time while the same budget proposes huge cuts in public services and employee benefits and a 'modest' property tax increase!
    I'll be watching how Council votes on this one for sure!

  2. Dear Calling, the Gazette article only somewhat clarifies the issue. First of all, it ignores the busiest gas station in the entire county that is being shoehorned amidst single-family residences next to the outdoor community pool; second, the article fails to mention that once Macy's moved in, Hecht's left because they are owned by the same company! Calling the $6M a "shot in the arm" for Wheaton is just not appropriate.

  3. Thanks for pointing out, Anon, that this agreement wasn't put into writing until March 18th. That's about a month before the Examiner article was written. So the $4m hasn't been a finalized deal for that long.

    Also, a reader sent me a PDF of the agreement itself and it does have a number of clauses that say things like "subject to the appropriation of funds by the county council". So, even in this document, it's clear that this is all contigent on the approval of the council.

    I actually do hope that Costco still comes to the mall. I just don't want my tax dollars to be spent bringing them here. I haven't seen anything yet saying that they won't come if they don't get the $4 million (remember when they were playing hard ball last year about not coming to Wheaton if they couldn't have their gas station?).