Archived Story

Four factions divided over Hayden project

Published 12:09pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

by Thomas H. Councill Jr.

In my talks with people about the Hayden project, I’ve run into four groups of thinking.

The “don’t say anything because it is a black” group.

They say that Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard are black, and because they are black we should let them do what they want to do to the city.

They basically don’t care and don’t want anybody else to care either. They just don’t want anything said.

The “knock-it-down-because-I’m-sick-of-looking-at-it group” does not care that Ashburn and Hilliard’s alliance are the same people who made the building an eyesore in the first place. They don’t care about anything, but knocking it down.

The “I-want-them-to-do-something-but-they-moved-too-slow-so-I’m-sick-of-looking-at- it-knock-it-down group” are people who don’t have time for the politics of the project, don’t know and don’t want to know.

And lastly, the “let-us-save-black-history-and-use-the-building-for-some-community-good” group — these are people who are positive, want to try and want to believe the city’s leaders are doing the right things.

Well, this letter is not for any of those folks.

For the knock-it-down-crowd, start cheering. You will get what you want. The way this project is being handled by Mayor Ashburn, Councilwoman Hilliard and their alliance, the building must come down.

For the let-it-stand groups, well sorry, it isn’t going to happen unless the city renegotiates the contract to allow a revert clause, which would allow somebody else to try if Senior Services fails to get commitments for tax credits, loans and private investment.

I write this letter as a question to all of the good government, low taxes folks who continually write letters to the editor, or pluck their two cents down on some Internet blog. Why aren’t you saying something about selling city land at a loss?

Senior Services is not the only non-profit organization in the world that deserves a handout. What put them in front of the line.

Forget history. The land is worth between $770,000 and $1.5 million. The city is selling it to them for $400,000.

Based on its current comments, contract and numbers, the project is destined to fail. But for them, there will be a silver lining. They will end up owning the land free and clear.

They can sell the land for a profit. Best case scenario, they can make about $1.1 million.

Who are these equity partners that Mayor Ashburn, Hilliard and the alliance don’t want to identify or talk about? Is somebody getting over on the public?

When did the city advertise a request for proposal on the project? When did they bid the project out? What was the city’s initial plan for the building? Why was Senior Services picked over the other four groups?

Are the equity partners non-profits or are they individuals?

Why is Councilman Barry Cheatham voting on this deal as a city councilman when he is also a director of Senior Services? Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

Why not sell the land for a profit? Why not have a bid on the land? When the building comes down, and Senior Services is holding the land, does the city get any tax revenue?

I suggest that the “good-government-I’m-for-transparency-keep-taxes-low group” hurry up and look at this deal.

THOMAS H. COUNCILL JR. is a member of the City’s redevelopment management team and can be reached at thomas_councill@hotmail.com.

  • Makalani

    Oddly — there has been very little feedback from the Black community pro or con in this online forum. Apathy? Disinterest? Too busy? Cannot afford DSL?

    Hopefully — more or SOME interest will be shown at meetings!

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      People aren’t saying anything because they are checking into the situation.

      They are finding out that Mayor Ashburn, Councilwoman Hilliard and their keep too many secrets alliance have been misleading them.

      They have depended on them to do the right things, and now they don‘t know what the right things are that Ashburn and Hilliard have done. But hope springs eternal and they want them to succeed. So the best course of action is to just keep quiet.

      I’ve been there and done that too with Ashburn and Hilliard. And I’ve been disappointed every time.

      I’m hoping that Ashburn and Hilliard rise to the occasion and fix the project problems before they transfer the building to Senior Services and their mysterious equity partners.

      Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    Mr Councill has railed against everything this city has tried to do since the Langston St. project,
    =========================

    Langston Street project is a perfect example of Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard’s liberal tax and spend, tax and waste leadership. They build houses that people in the area can’t buy. A couple of the houses have gone through a string of foreclosures.

    I was at a Planning Commission meeting where a local doctor said that some of the houses are being rented under section 8, making them a type of welfare mansion.

    A couple of the houses have never sold. Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard’s leadership will lead us over a fiscal cliff. We should be weary of any deal they devise, and that means the Hayden deal. I hope they do better with this deal because what they did with Langston Street is easy to see wasn’t much.

    Spider68 instead of being negative. Why don’t you find some way to help Ashburn and Hilliard to do better.

    Suggest Removal

  • spider68

    I personally do not care one iota what happens to that building.
    My concern is these constant conspiracy theories concocted by Mr. Councill and then thrown out to the public without any concrete proof whatsoever. Mr Councill has railed against everything this city has tried to do since the Langston St. project, and most people that remember are tired of it. His constant attacks on the City Council members are just asinine.
    Mayor Johnson-Ashburn, and Councilwoman Hilliard can no more ramrod this project through to completion than I can lift City Hall with one hand. So, Mr Councill, before you try to get citizens to join your efforts, please provide something concrete besides what ifs.

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      I personally do not care one iota what happens to that building.
      ==============

      Then I assume it is safe to say that you are a nonchalant blogger totally lacking in civic mindedness. Someone oblivious to how the system truly works, and unaware of this valuable asset’s worth to the community, and unwilling to do your research, in order to find the truth.

      Since you can’t care about the building. Find the energy to care about the value of the land, transparency, proper procedure, the best use of the land for the community good.

      Also, spider68 please reveal your identity.

      Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      My concern is these constant conspiracy theories concocted by Mr. Councill and then thrown out to the public without any concrete proof whatsoever.

      I don’t believe what I’ve been saying qualifies as a conspiracy. I’m saying that this appears to be a bad deal that can not work as it has been presented to the public.

      1. Senior Services has given the community several presentations on their vision for the building. They have not give us one presentation on the financials. You want me to supply you with the financials, to prove to you that what they have is erroneous.

      A. I have tried to obtain the pro forma from the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the City’s Finance Director, The City’s Department of Community Development, the City Manager, and Senior Services. The City’s position is that they don’t have it, and Senior Services refuses to respond to my request.

      B. The Planning Commission asked them for their pro forma, and Senior Services refused to give them the information. Senior Services told them that they refused to give them their pro forma because it is inaccurate therefore they would not give them the pro forma.

      C. When the numbers don’t add up, the project fails. That is not a conspiracy, that’s bad business. The government is refusing to obtain or release your concrete proof. But, that doesn’t bother you.

      Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Mr Councill has railed against everything this city has tried to do since the Langston St. project, and most people that remember are tired of it. His constant attacks on the City Council members are just asinine.
      ==============================

      I disagree with you on all counts. I want this project to succeed in order for the Rec Department to have use of it whenever possible. This will not occur when nothing adds up, when no one on the City’s side of the deal took the time to verify anything Senior Services said. It is truly unfortunate for your emotional stability that Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard are in charge of this issue. They are the leaders of this new political alliance. If they are not, then feel free to reveal who is in charge.

      You don’t like my presentations. Well, tell City Council to increase the youth program budget, construct a building with a gym, theater, and multipurpose rooms, and I won’t say anything else about this. Otherwise I suggest you dig a hole and stick your head in it. Keep it in there until we’ve gotten open and effective government within this city.

      Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Mayor Johnson-Ashburn, and Councilwoman Hilliard can no more ramrod this project through to completion than I can lift City Hall with one hand. So, Mr Councill, before you try to get citizens to join your efforts, please provide something concrete besides what ifs.
      =============================

      Senior Services has an option contract to purchase based on obtaining a zoning change. They will obtain the right to purchase at the November public hearing.

      I realize that you don’t understand the system, but Mayor Ashburn and Hilliard do have the power to explain the demolition bond. They have the power to obtain a revert clause if Senior Services fails to complete the project. They have the power to determine when the zone is changed. They also have the power to explain the financials to the public. I want people to know the truth. You don’t, so stop reading right here.

      What if the project fails?

      Senior Services keeps the land.

      What can they do with a B-1 zoned six acres?

      Develop business, lease buildings, sell for a profit.

      What will happen to the history of the area, if they redevelop the area?

      History will fade from the memory.

      What will the kids get?

      Nothing

      What will spider68 say?

      Spider68 will criticize the people in that area for not standing up for their rights, homes, churches, and children.

      Suggest Removal

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