Thursday, March 03, 2005

D.M. loses round one in license site battle

A transportation bill that includes the plan to shut the Park Fair Mall station easily wins House approval.

March 3, 2005

Des Moines lost the first major battle in its effort to keep its lone driver's license station within its borders Wednesday when the Iowa House approved money to build a new suburban location.

The $9 million project faced opposition from Des Moines-area lawmakers who tried to sink the plan or force the Iowa Department of Transportation to open a second Polk County location for Des Moines residents.

But all of their efforts failed and the House voted 93-7 in favor of legislation that would pay for the new station in Ankeny as part of a larger transportation spending bill. The bill now goes to the Senate.

"It's a big defeat for the city of Des Moines," said Rep. Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat. "Why in the world would we take a vital service out of the population (center)? . . . It makes no sense."

The DOT wants to close the license station at Park Fair Mall and move the operation to seven acres just south of the Ankeny airport, which it has already purchased.

The agency needs the Legislature's approval for money to build the new facility, which will house the state's entire Motor Vehicle Division as well as offices where Polk County residents and truck drivers can apply for driver's licenses.

Which genius thought up this plan? "I know, we'll take the driver's license station out of the biggest city in the state and move it 15 miles out of town, it'll be great!" Not only is Des Moines the biggest city in the state it is also the county seat. Why, for crying out loud, would they think moving an office every driver has to visit on a fairly regular basis is a good idea? Someone is probably making a buck on the deal somewhere.

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