Friday, January 3, 2014
LET THE DANCING BEGIN
OK. I promised to publish this picture when the planned tower on our public beach was no longer a threat. Over two years ago, many gathered at a spaghetti dinner to support the few brave people who filed a lawsuit against the project. Too bad that the law suit was lost, just like the 13 OMB appeals and the petitions and the delegations to council and all the other ways that we tried to get the town to stop its carpetbagging town planner from fulfilling his dream of high rises along the shore of Bay Beach. We kept at it though, through personal attacks and insults, through financial costs and lawsuits. Now it is done.
Let the dancing begin. One of the trio of dancers is no longer with us, but, wherever she is, I'll bet she's doing a happy dance. Ironically, it was the lack of interest and tough economic times that killed the tower plan. The Molinaro sales team could only sell sixteen units, well below the forty-five required to continue with the agreement. As said by then acting CAO Rick Brady, referring to the December 31, 2013 drop dead date:
“It’s my understanding that this particular clause is a clause that was put in solely for the benefit of the buyer. Therefore, under those circumstances, no, it’s my understanding that there is
no obligation for this council to consider this.”
And so, the council voted 4-3 to deny an extension to the Molinaros. Despite being accused of not supporting the project, the present council voted to continue with the project in early 2010. The OMB decision did not bind the new council to the agreement which could have been rescinded. Instead, council voted to continue with the project. Although disappointed, most of those opposed to the project understood that the council had been warned of serious lawsuits that would be forthcoming if they did not support the project going forward.
Sure, Councillor Lubberts was relentless in asking questions about the project. He even pointed out a serious mistake that was copied by then town attorney Heather Salter from documents she received (and apparently didn't vet) from the Molinaros. Lubberts also brought up many of the problems with the deal, and, to those who paid attention, it soon became apparent that the town was not going to gain much of anything from the project and was quickly losing the so-called "amenities" that were promised.
Then there was the problem with absolute title. The town bought the property from the Rebstock Family in 2001 without a proper title search. That particular oversight came back to cause problems when the town wanted to convey the property to the Molinaros. I suspect that the decision from Land Titles will come down soon and it will not go as the town and the Molinaros hoped. Perhaps the Molinaros had an inkling that the judgment would go against them; we may never know. We will soon find out if the town has absolute title to the lands or if the "private road" and a road allowance would cancel the developer's plans.
Hizzoner spoke on local radio Friday, presumably while enjoying the largess of a wealthy campaign donor in Florida, decrying those who were "anti-development" of course referring to those against the often-renamed project. Remember the original iteration of the plan: "Aging in Place"? What a joke that was. By the time it came to an end, it was called "The South Beach Project." So many attempts to market this beast. Truth is: no one wants to spend big money for a condo overlooking a public beach (and washrooms.) Luckily, the beach was to remain public. (By the way, no one, including me, ever said that the beach would become private.) However, the plans for the property were designed to make the public assume that the beach was private. Same with the parking lots.
We dodged a big bullet but we must learn from this close call. We need to make sure that nothing like this happens again to our public lands. There was fierce opposition starting in 2002 when the town sought to sell off the north sections of the Bay Beach Properties. We thought it had been decided, in a 2005 vote, that the property, save one small area, would remain in public hands. Doug Martin never mentioned that he would look for ways to divest the town of the property when he ran in the mayoral election in 2006. Never said a word. Almost as soon as he was elected, the idea to send out invitations to developers came from then town planner Rino Mostacci as a way to "balance the books." We saw through this lie and called them out on it. Still they persisted, despite all the opposition. The Ward 5 councillor sold out for a taco and a pat on the head. She was clearly in conflict when she and her domestic partner opened a beach shop in a building on the Bay Beach Properties. She lost her re-election bid by large numbers. Same with Lame Duck Martin. Here he was an incumbent, which means a usual 30% advantage, yet he won by a mere five votes. Unheard of. And very suspicious. Especially when town officials are in charge of the voting.
Big election coming up in 2014. The gloves will be off and the four councillors will be prime targets of the "righteous ones" who brag that "they are always right." Bwah! They can't even have a discussion with a supporter without resorting to name calling. They are so invested in their anger that they fail to see that others have valid opinions. That's right boys, insult someone who recently came to the area. Got news for you, fat boys: your demographic is on the wane (thankfully) and there are new people coming to Fort Erie who have no time or patience with this small town hypocrisy. Go ahead, blame it all on the Americans. We're used to it. Been blamed for a lot over the century or so that Americans have owned property in Fort Erie and supported the local economy in big, big ways. Blamed while we paid property taxes for twelve months while living here for three months - never complaining. Yet, when the town was about to make a stupid move, when we spoke out against it, we were told we "have no right."
Two Words to that: F*#K YOU.
(End of rant)
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