My husband, Jay, and I are responding to Councilman Charles Wade's Letter to the Editor.
Mr. Wade stated, "People should try to find out the details of any rumors before accusing someone of improper actions." To our knowledge, nobody accused CIC members of "improper actions." We are concerned the actions of the CIC are imprudent, and as anyone who has observed the city's slow decline can attest, ill-considered actions can be just as damaging as corrupt ones.
Our information was gleaned from The Review article and conversations with Councilman Ryan Stovall. If The Review was incorrect, then Mr. Wade's comment should be directed at the reporter. If Mr. Stovall's information was incorrect, perhaps the CIC should have informed Council of its plans to begin with. Sherrie Curtis and Russell Dray (also CIC members) were uninformed about this fundamental change in the mission of the CIC, which tells us that this information was confined to only certain CIC members. CIC members Sam Scafide and Bill Cowan were requested to be present at the Council meeting to clarify this matter, but failed to show. How can we "know the facts" when the only people privy to the facts were no-shows? The taxpayers who are paying for the Bosco purchase deserve to be kept informed.
Councilman Perorazio stated that even if a deal between the developer and CIC came before Council, they would block it by denying utilities for the property. This didn't sound legal to us, so we consulted a former city attorney. He stated that there is no legal basis for a city to block utilities as a means of rejecting an already approved deal for subsidized housing. Moreover, once a deal is in place, the housing authority dictates what is to be done, not the city. If the CIC brings a deal for subsidized housing and Council denies utility rights, an expensive lawsuit will be filed by the developer and then the already cash-strapped city will be left with a lawsuit, an undeveloped property, and taxpayers will be stuck with the bills.
The Bosco deal was touted as a commercial/industrial development, which would generate jobs and a steady tax base for the city. Given the city's economic situation, it is understandable that the CIC was tempted to accept this developer's offer for a quick lump sum. This is the same short-sighted thinking that got us in this situation. While it may put some quick cash into the city's coffers, low income housing won't provide ongoing revenue for the city, and will only bring down the property values for nearby homeowners.
A housing project will not produce jobs. It will, however, place even greater demands on our already strained city services, and as Ryan Estell noted, "the city's infrastructure was built for a population of 30,000, but must be cared for by a population of 11,000, half of whom pay no taxes." This is unsustainable.
The CIC is obligated to reject any project which won't create jobs and provide ongoing economic activity.