City Council incumbent candidates Frank Ciotola's and Wade Steen's campaign flyers are proclaiming how they got Kingsdale done.
"With Linda Mauger and Don Leach both leaving Council, we need moderates to replace them --- members who will put the people's business first. We think Mike Schadek and Debbie Johnson are those two candidates."
--- UAPA Executive Cmte
But who really negotiated on behalf of Upper Arlington constituents for the best deal with developers? Who had the backbone to stand up and get the best deal for Upper Arlington?
As it turns out, Ciotola and Steen are two of the least deserving of all the praise they are heaping on themselves.
The market idealogues vs. the pragmatists
We heard it 100 times during the Kingsdale debate from Council's right-wing block --- "let the market dictate what goes in at Kingsdale". In this Columbus Dispatch story entitled 'Big-box approach OK'd for Kingsdale', Ciotola thought that UA was negotiating too aggressively on Regency's big box Target store proposal:
"I think municipalities are getting overzealous in dictating what the mix of development is instead of letting the market dictate," he said.
If UA had solely relied on market forces, as Ciotola suggests, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency would have "dictated" our future and we'd likely have a big box Target store or something like it at Kingsdale today.
A view of the Continental's proposed Kingsdale site from Tremont Road. Many of us breathed a sign of relief when Regency failed in their bid to build a big box Target store at Kingsdale. If Ciotola had been in charge of the negotiation, the market would have "dictated" the outcome and UA would likely have a Target store at Kingsdale!
And thanks to Council's moderate, pragmatic majority we will have something much better than Steen or Ciotola were willing to settle for.
The audacity of negotiation
Instead of the passive role of government that Ciotola recommended, the city staff and other Council members embraced their responsibility to the community to get the best deal for UA.
By effectively tempering market forces with the needs of the community as described in the Master Plan they brokered a Kingsdale compromise has been well received throughout our community.
The role of government
At the heart of the Kingsdale debate was how active and engaged City government should be in making economic development decisions.