MAILBAG: John Arceri, Charles Lamb
Council doesn't follow up on Pinter
(This letter was sent to council member Kenneth Honecker and copied to the Sun Times.)
I heard you ask Mr. Pinter at Monday night's meeting if the city could finish the retaining ramp wall by our property and the associated walkway under the bridge without having any Esplanade propery rights. As I said the last time I spoke before city council, I continue to be amazed at how little follow up council members do when it comes to Mr. Pinter's responses.
It should be clear from the numerous mistakes and misrepresentations that he provided to council over the past year that his responses should be questioned and verified. This is the same person that told you many times that the city had a verifed pre-construction survey when they didn't, that the city had easement rights when they didn't, that the city did not work on Esplanade property when they did for months.
When will you begn to question his crediblity?
His answer to you on Monday night about the city's ablity to finish retaining walls and walkways was totally misleading. First, all you need to do is take a look at the city's latest survey. It will show that the walkway ramp retaining wall is either on Esplanade property or only an inch or two from our property. I have no idea what Mr. Pinter's plans are to finish the walkway without encroaching on our property or violating our air rights.
I can guarantee you that any attenmpt to do this work by violating our property rights will be acted upon immediately. Second, Mr. Pinter claims that he can finish the full walkway from the ramp and onto a sidewalk that can go under the bridge without Esplanade property. Again, look at the survey and you will see that the city can only construct a sidewalk only 18 inches wide without Esplanade property.
Again, any attempt to violate our property rights here will mandate immediate action to protect our rights.
I strongly suggest you review the survey and ask Mr. Gabriel what rights the city has and don't have. One final thought, I was also surprised to hear Mr. Pinter tell city council at the Esplanade workshop meeting that the waterfront walkway along the city's new sea wall was the Esplanade's request. That was an outright misreresentation.
That new walkway was mandated by you and not the Esplanade. Again, I suggest you question Mr. Gabriel on this matter as well, not Mr. Pinter.
A veteran's perspective on the $7.5 million Veterans Park Community Center
I am a Vietnam Veteran living here in Marco. I've been following the articles from the Sun Times on the $7.5 M multipurpose government center proposed for Veterans Park. I also watched the video ofthe Sept.11 Special City Council meeting where this project was discussed in great lengths. I have also read the letter addressed to Representative Passidomo requesting a state grant of $2.5 M.
At this time I'm opposed to this endeavor for the following reasons.
1. There is no apparent and real need for this facility. Among the veterans I know on the island, there is no common voice calling out for a special facility. Yes, veterans need a meeting place for various reasons, but there are several free public meetings rooms on the island that can serve our veterans without building a $7.5 M structure. For example, the conference room at Mackle Park is not free for the veterans to use.
2. There is an element of deception with this endeavor that I feel uncomfortable with. The city is using the name of Veterans Services to request a grant for a building that will be used primarily for city administration and possibly a performing arts center. Our city manager has used the word "hook" in describing the city's efforts to request grant money from the state. This grant is much more likely to be approved if this building benefits veterans in a significant way. In reality the dedicated veteran's room may be available to veterans for as little as four (4) hours per week. Requesting a state grant in the name of Veterans Services while the primary uses of the building will not include veterans, is not being truthful. Therefore the name of the building should not include the word "Veterans".
3. Cost The stated projected cost is $7.5 M. Many city residents are assuming that the state grant of $2.5 M is a done deal. It isn't. There is no state commitment for this money to be granted, so the city's tax payers may be responsible for the $7.5 M. It is unknown if the cost of fixtures, furnishings, staffing and maintaining this new building are included. This is such a large expenditure, I believe more discussions are needed. A referendum may also be considered to let the tax payers decide.
4. Will the character of Veterans Park change? Our Veterans Park is a beautiful, open place dedicated to veterans. I believe that adding a large public building on this property along with the accompanying parking lot will forever change it's character.
In closing, I invite other veterans to consider this project and voice their feelings both pro and con.