For the more than 40 year this sort of project has been springing up on our coastlines all across this nation. These projects seem to be part of a process of privatization which is been slowly excluding the public and particularly the public of color from water access. Scholarly studies, like http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/wp-conte…, have demonstrated this beyond a doubt.
I think it is not out of line to ask the question if this project is part of a process which will privatize our presently public beach. After all it has take some beach property, has replaced some property which has customarily been used by the beach for parking, and has had a zoning change which makes it much harder for the public to stop further development. It seems that all safe guards which use to protect this beach have been removed.
This would be okay if our leaders were going to protect our beaches but this project has shown our local government is unresponsive to the public's concern. Over and over polls have shown the public is opposed to this project from an RBJ poll to polls done at public meetings, to a survey is letters to the editor. Yet despite a mayoral promise by Lovely Warren to stop if the public opposed this project, it has been nothing but full steam ahead. Even when significant technical problems arose with the adjacent marina the city continued to pour money and support into this project.
So while I do not live in Charlotte I fear this is only the first step toward privatization of our coastline and one which will adversely affect our poor community.
I have often wondered about the legality of a local government passing ethic laws for all politicians which represent this area. For example what about Rochester passing a law making it illegal to vote for things they received money from a group which would benefit from that vote. Sure this would be a ticketed offense which could only be written if the politicians visited the area but perhaps it is a way to try to enforce ethic reforms at a local level where it is easier to pass legislation.
Perhaps Bill you are being a little harsh but lets not pretend that there will be any taxes on this land. Right now there are 6 acres of land in the old mid town site which no one wants. There seems to be little demand for this property and it seems unlikely there will be demand when more space enters the market. Further in order to get Windstream to build there we had to give them $10.7 million in cash and assistance. Finally very few of the big projects pay any real taxes at all and with our present leadership there seems to be no reason to believe any new development will pay taxes. Look at the Windstream building, this building was built for $18.9 million yet it pays only $21,280.60. The same is true for almost all these projects. The important thing Bill has pointed out is that the land here should not be seen as a benefit as we are creating it for a mere $3.5 million and acre. The value of this project is in the need to fix deteriorating infrastructure and, I feel, it is unfortunate that filling something in with dirt is the best we could afford.
With our poverty level over 34% and our children poverty level at 54% perhaps it is time to start accepting that these are the reasons our city schools are failing. This is exactly what the mayors of our city should be focusing on as this would improve our schools. Yet in the last 15 years poverty has increased more than 25%. If our mayors fail so badly to deal with poverty why would we trust them with the schools?
I would love to see our beech developed into a better destination but this project seems unlikely to do this in any way. From the start I have wondered how building town houses and condos will create a destination location and improve a persons experience at Charlotte? Yes it will add a little density but not enough to bring any new businesses to this area. As for the hotel it is surprising we do not have the name of an operator yet. Normally on a hotel project we have the name of an operator of that hotel long before we get to this point of the project. Not having one I wonder what is really going on? Finally the jobs numbers are ridiculous. The hotel will have a 7 person desk staff, a 6 person cleaning staff,, 3 person maintenance staff, and a manager for a total of 17 people. The restaurant will have less than 50 and perhaps as few as 20 while the coffee shop will never have 20 even counting the live entertainment in the shop as jobs. Thus the total is less than 100 jobs and even this is misleading as new retail projects usually mean other existing retail suffer so they lose jobs. If we really want to improve the beech we need to start being critical of projects, insist developers tell the truth and have a real plan which will further our purpose.
The solution to mismanagement of funds and other corruption in a government project is not to stop all projects but to investigate, arrest and punish the transgressors. Then to put checks in place to make sure it never happens again. After all failing to repair our schools and refusing to provide these jobs will not make things better.
I would be for growth and development if the developers paid for it and the residents benefited. Unfortunately this is not true. In two of these projects there will be no taxes as they are not for profits agencies. At Charlotte the developer is looking for millions in public financing and will get incredible tax breaks. Just look at Erie Harbor a 131 apartment project on Mt. Hope where a $49 million project pays $7624 taxes a year or Plymouth Terrace Apartments where $300,000 townhouses pay $144 in taxes. This is why we can not afford the schools, policing, or neighborhood services we the residents want. This seems like a very high price to pay for the millions we gave to the developers to build both of these projects. It is time we stop building projects which sit half vacant and do nothing to resolve the problems which are destroying our neighborhoods.
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