Sunday, October 9, 2011

A nameless, faceless dream, however...

Last night, I had a dream that I was called by a city manager of a medium size community to come look at at a project they had underway.  The city manager was very excited about it, wanted to show it off so it seemed.  It had some historic qualities to it - apparently it consisted of an old theater building and two larger historic residences were being added to both sides of the theater and would be linked in some fashion.  The city manager said that the newly configured older buildings would make up the city's new city hall.  The manager wanted my general advice on the project as it was nearly done and they might be running into some issues.  In my real waking life, this call would not be out-of-the-ordinary.

I arrive in this city a few days later and pull up to where the city manager said the project was going on.  It was right in the middle of a single family neighborhood, which I thought a bit strange.  Clearly, there was construction going on, as there were trade trucks around the site and scaffolding was up around the three buildings - which were now one.  The city manager greeted me and started showing me around.  The first thing that I noticed was that there were what looked like many city employees in the building - "working" while the construction was going on.  And when I say construction was going on, I mean electricians putting in wiring, hanging lights - carpenters wheeling saws - plumbers were digging trenches for drains - there were areas where large holes were in the floor.  The City Manager seemed especially adept and jumping over and avoiding these holes in the floor - I commented on this talent and the City Manager answered that it's due to years of practice.

The noise was intense so I immediately asked, "Why do you have people working here before the work is done?"  The answer my tour guide gave was that the employees had no where else to go since they demolished the old city hall, so they moved them in before the work started.  The City Manager said that over time, they just got used to it since it was gradual.  The City Manager predicted that the project would be ready for a grand opening in three weeks - one that had already been widely publicized and a parade would go through town, ending up at the new City Hall.

Looking around, I couldn't see how that deadline could be met.  During the walk through, the City Manager kept pointing out the expensive light fixtures that had been chosen.  I asked why they would be installed already when so much heavy construction activity was going on?  The answer was, "Because I like them."

The City Manager said that I was called to go over the various documents related to the construction to see if there is anything that needed attention before the Grand Opening.  I immediately said that it is a little bit late to be asking that question three weeks out from opening and that I was not a building official, but that I had been around historic renovation projects and knew things to look for, but that essentially the City Manager had called the wrong person too late.  The City Manager said that others didn't need to be involved - that it was just important to identify anything major that was wrong with the project and that anything I report would be only to the City Manager.

I was led to a small storage room with a table piled with tons of paper and bound notebooks.  In one corner there were these canvas bags with dollar signs on them.  I asked what was in them and was told "That is how we are funding the project."

I was left alone in the room.  I couldn't take my eyes off of those canvas bags.  One, under the pile, had a small hole in it so I went to peek and see if I could see if there was real cash money in the bags. Lo and behold, I saw a "$40" in the corner on one of the bills on the top of the stack.  My mouth dropped open.  Curiosity led me to open another bag and it was full of stacks of $40 dollar bills.

I won't go into all the details of searching through the documents, but suffice to say that no one had thought about the need for a sprinkler system in a wood building with a theater that could sit 500 people (the old theater), the zoning was wrong and the project shouldn't have been in that place to begin with, there was no parking, no elevator planned for a three story building, etc., etc., etc....

This is where it gets fuzzy.  I think I reported back to the City Manager about what I found out - most importantly that funding the project with $40 bills wouldn't work.  The City Manager didn't want to hear what I had found out and instead insisted that everything was right with the project - regardless of what I said.  I asked the City Manager why I was brought in and was told, "I don't know, but it's always good to have a consultant on a project."

Any similarities to characters or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.