Consultant wants payback for rail idea
An out-of-work consultant, bored and desperate for a paycheck, is behind using Yahara Station as a connection between commuter and high-speed rail in Madison.
The boredom is gone, and irritation over not getting paid is replacing Barry Gore’s desperation.
Gore has met with Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and city and neighborhood groups in the area covered by the Dane County Regional Transit Authority to discuss the concepts for Yahara Station.
The plans would put a high-speed rail stop at East Washington Avenue and First Street instead of at the Dane County Regional Airport. By moving the stop to Yahara Station, Gore said, Dane County could connect regional commuter rail to the high-speed tracks and extend the regional service as far east as Waterloo.
The plan sparked the creation of a local advocacy group, Campaign for Yahara Station, and was approved unanimously last week by the Madison Downtown Coordinating Committee.
But Gore’s lack of official standing is working against him, a problem apparent when he and an advocacy group member presented the station plan to the Marquette Neighborhood Association last week.
“At one point toward the end, an older gentleman stood up and said, ‘Well, who are you?’” Gore said. “It’s a fair question.”
Gore is the founder and only employee of BGore Design, a Madison-based consulting firm with no clients. From 1999 to 2003, Gore worked as a planner for Minneapolis-based BRW Inc. on the development of the Northstar commuter rail line in Minneapolis. He worked for HNTB Corp. in Chicago in 2007 and 2008 and has been out of work since February 2008, Gore said.
Sun Prairie Alderman Hariah Hutkowski said Gore talked to the Sun Prairie City Council last week about Dane County commuter rail.
“But I think the question of who this guy actually was was on all our minds,” he said. “We heard him out, and he made some good points.
“But it was a sales pitch to use his services, and it’s not likely we’re going to pursue that any time soon.”
Madison Alderwoman Marsha Rummel said Gore’s ideas are worth hearing.
“He deserves a lot of credit for presenting the city with a serious alternative,” she said. “But at some point, I think, we all take our passions to a point where it’s not going to make us any money.
“I would assume if the city did agree on (Yahara Station), it would go through the normal request for proposals process.”
For Gore, that’s the hard truth about working for free. The initial Yahara Station plans, he said, were the product of being “bored to death” and wanting to keep his skills sharp. Gore said he made the plans easily accessible because he wanted some government or private firm to hire him.
The advocacy group cannot afford to pay Gore for his consultant services, but Madison should hire him, said Troy Thiel, chairman of the Downtown Coordinating Committee and a member of the Campaign for Yahara Station.
“Quite frankly, the city’s behind its peers in planning for this,” he said. “Barry’s already done a lot of the work, so frankly, it makes a lot more sense to hire him instead of paying someone else to do it all over.”
Gore said he is just one of many designers and consultants trying to get an inside track on projects by providing plans at no cost. It’s a sign of how tough the economy is, he said, but it’s a risk that’s not paying off.
“If we all keep working for free,” he said, “why should they pay us?”