There were three comments on my last blog, all from the same person. I’ll take it that her vote is a ‘yes’, she is in favor of public land being taken over, or sold to, private developers, especially since they do such wonderful things for us with our land. We’re really lucky to have someone who is just an ‘interested citizen’, without connection to government, to set us straight on what’s really happening in this town, and what a favor developers are doing for us.
I’m glad to hear there’s so much enthusiasm for our tarted up waterfront which has become a front yard for the buildings all along what used to be public land, and I have read about the massive public relations campaign to welcome it. (They’ve invited the unemployed to volunteer for the ribbon cutting).
As the lady who comments says, “So those with the "most" can purchase a condo overlooking OUR glorious, public Rossi Park.” And that’s really what it’s all about – the taking over of public land and resources to sell it to the “most”. What did you think the “transfer of wealth” in this country was all about? Yes, it’s Washington and Wall Street that are responsible for it, but if it didn’t start at the bottom, here in our town, it couldn’t happen anywhere. And I am here, at the bottom, and this is the only way I can think of to fight back.
The first of the buildings along that section of land was given for a $1 fee for a 99 year lease. That complex of buildings starts all the way at the far eastern edge of that stretch of land. If Rossi Park was only a small piece at 9th Street, how could the city have given someone a 99 year lease on the other end of it?
If the current developer has paid millions for the land which has just been taken over, who did he pay it to? Does that mean there’s a public pot of money lying around somewhere which can be used for the public’s benefit – like buying land along the river for public use? Oh, that’s right – there is already public land along the river that’s being disguised by private interests, and the City Council has already said the public can’t use it.
I do hope the majority of the population is in agreement with the developers, since all three candidates for Mayor are in agreement that City Hall and the Police station need to be sold because, according to one of them, “that land is too valuable to developers.” It’s valuable to me too.
Every time I go to pay a water bill or get a permit to ramp my house, I get to stop and breathe in the calm that comes with being on the waterfront. They’ve already tried once to take away the library and move it to the mall, because the piece of land that public building is on is “too valuable to developers.” I guess it’s going to go next, to the “most” of us.
When you think about how much you’d like a “mixed use” on that waterfront land do you realize you’re taking it out of public hands and putting it in private hands? For land to be valuable, does it have to be ‘developed’ for private profit? Did you know there’s actually a public housing project in Sarasota right on 41, with a glorious high-rise view of the Bay? I’m sure those of you who are in favor of selling off public property will know what a waste that is, to offer people who live in public housing an affordable view of the Bay.
Before they closed the Pink Palace there were 120 moderate-income souls living there with a view of the river, and at least 20 employees including the family of five that ran it. It was closed so it could be made into $500,000 condos. The economy killed that, and now we think we’re blessed that after sitting empty for so many years, we’re going to have a luxury hotel there that will employ 14.
I have no quarrel with developing the downtown, and think it would be wonderful if, this time, it actually succeeds. Will those who come to experience our now glorious riverfront actually trek downtown and to the Village of the Arts and spend money there? Does everything that matters have to belong to the “most” of us, and do the “least” of us have no value at all as members of our community?
I hope that one of those ‘interested citizens’ who are so knowledgeable will come back and tell us if it’s true that the old City Hall land was sold to someone for $5, and then resold to the city at an enormous profit, and if it’s true there’s no bidding process for public contracts with the city. And how they’re going to shoehorn in 456 dwelling units between the Manatee Players and the Art League.
It seems strange to me that when I am around the ‘movers and shakers’ they’re insistent that there is no controversy over public land. When I am around people who neither move nor shake, but, like me, just try to make it from day to day, it is news to them that the last piece of open public land on the riverfront has been sold and is being developed. And they think that vest pocket parks on the riverbank is a wonderful idea.