Blank Check for Private Owners/Investors?


images (1)lacour
Just reviewed the Riverwalk land swap proposed by the City Manager. This proposal raises several serious concerns:
First, it is inequitable.  The developer receives far more from the city than the city gets in return. In essence the city provides 221,450 square feet of property to the developer, compared to the city receiving 88,301 square feet of property. This is almost a three to one ratio.   Vague reference is made to making up the difference in cash.  Note that we would be providing land bought at the market top and selling it at the market bottom.
Second, this land swap destroys a key component of the Riverwalk Park. Riverwalk Park has two important elements, a promenade along the River, and a commons (an open area for public gatherings). This commons would provide an area for public events, concerts, firework displays, craft and art shows. With the proposed land swap there will be no areas left with Riverfront access fitting a commons.
In 2011, when it was announced by the developer that he was no longer planning to exchange the point and the Marina to the City, realizing the point and the area surrounding it were necessary to having a commons for group gatherings, an alternative park plan was developed and the “new commons” was established in the area of the old trailer park. (See attached).  Now the City Manager is proposing that the old trailer court (where the centennial celebrations were held) be also traded to the developer.
Third, the City Manager proposes that 75% of the taxes realized from development on this land, be returned to the project with 25% as a direct incentive to the developer, 25% to pay for  infrastructure needed by the developer, 25% for park improvements in the project area. Only one quarter of taxes generated are slated for paying off the substantial debt that the CRA has already accumulated. Currently, city wide taxes are now paying for a sizeable proportion of the CRA debt. It appears that the taxpayers will be paying additional taxes for the foreseeable future if this proposal is implemented.
Note these tax incentives are being proposed to be provided, no matter what the proposed project is. One could call this a blank check to a private group.  Before providing incentives shouldn’t we at least know what is being proposed?
I would urge the public to contact their councilman and ask them to request a more equitable land swap, maintain the integrity of Riverwalk Park, and not to commit tax incentives until it is known what they are incentivizing.
Bob Ford, Council District 1

hank says:

  1. There are a lot of legal complexities in this issue, and LaCour and friends have a lot of money for legal triumphs. The city of Port Orange is not up to match legal advice with LaCour and friends.
    The city has already spent millions in this
    Riverwalk adventure and I think now the city has to get out of a financially losing adventure, the best way it can.
    I was amazed at how fast Sweetwater’s was sold to private interest, and I bet money was no object for the developers, because it expected to get the money back from the city of Port Orange tax payers.
    City council of Port Orange, I urge you to get out of these deals with La Cour before it costs us more money . Cut the ties. You have lost. We have lost. We are no match for La Cour and his associates.
    I for one will remember all of our bad relationships with our
    Grand Master Developer, when the private enterprises are built on land that was originally meant to be a park for the people. Did we learn our lesson, or not?
    Mayor Green, and Ken Parker, I hold you for steering us to where we are now.
    What hold did you have over city council people, except Bob Pohlmann, to pay LaCour the exhorbitant purchase price of the Lohlmann’s business and property in the CRA area? Many of the city council people expressed dissatisfaction with the purchase price, but yet, with no explanation voted to give the money to La Cour. How in the world did Mayor Green and Mr. Parker yield such influence?
    Drew, Bob Ford and Don, do the best you can for us tax payers. Find a way to sever ties with LaCour.
    Hank springer

    I received this comment in my e mail box. — hank
    Kudos to councilman Ford for pointing out that the up-stairs meeting room was selected to keep the latest Buddy give-a-way attempt as far away from the public as possible, and for pointing out that this latest deal brokered by Manager Kisela is anything but a good deal for city residents.
    Does the manager really believe that residents are gullible enough to believe him when he says that Buddys decision to not exercise an overpriced land purchase option that is set to expire shortly anyway is a good deal for residents,
    or that they will be too stupid to notice that while the 15 foot board walk to be constructed at taxpayer expense won’t make much of a park it will make a wonderful promenade for Buddys exclusive seafood restaurant.
    It will take 3 councilmen to make this obscene give-a-way a reality. Buddy likely has councilman Burnette’s vote and the Mayor can still likely deliver Councilman Kennedy’s but that is only two as the Mayor won’t be voting on this or any other Buddy deal because of un-disclosed conflicts of interest.
    That means this all comes down to councilman Bastain, and I cringe to think what he has been promised for his vote, and more importantly if those promises did the trick.
    Stay tuned
    Palmetto Pal


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