I write this because I am concerned about integrity and ethical issues.
As one of deemed "substantial citizens," as designated by Jon Brayshaw in a recent email, along with Carl Zanoni (one of the three founders of Zygo, our largest taxpayer) and with Mickey Fowler, (also not only a large taxpayer, also a former Planning and Zoning chair among many other past leadership roles in our community), Jon's comments have motivated me to speak out and address my position; what I think is best long term for our town regarding the sale of Powder Ridge. Mickey and Carl have recently expressed their opinions publicly.
Since the dismissal of the Ad Hoc Committee, I have attended almost all of the public meetings regarding the Ridge. However, Town Clerk records will verify that since Nov.6, 2008 through Jan 12, 2012 the BOS had 47 executive sessions, 30 of which were regarding Powder Ridge. From Jan 3, 2012 through July 17, 2012 there were 9 executive sessions, of those, 6 were regarding Powder Ridge. The public is excluded from these meetings. Were these all over the recent Sean Hayes proposal? The answer is "no," but they were BEHIND CLOSED DOORS so that the discussions among the Selectmen are completely without record. And, repeatedly the First Selectman said that the Hayes agreement was "very similar" to the Alpine agreement. The most important point is that the public was excluded from "the making of the sausage," a term often used by Kevin Boyle, an Ad Hoc Committee member. We, and others who worked on the former Powder Ridge Ad Hoc committee know well how important this is. Because of the Executive Sessions, we as the taxpayers and owners of the Ridge have no idea how or why in these closed door sessions the Selectmen arrived at their decisions.
However, we now have, again without public input, a signed agreement, on which we can only vote yes or no, with the following:
1. If the Ridge is sold to Hayes before Nov. 30, 2012 we must make a $225,000 payment to Middlefield Holdings which benefits a friend/colleague of Jon Brayshaw's son.*
2. The town is financing $600,000 for 6 years, interest free*
3. Hayes can build 4 houses on the Ridge*
4. Our bond cost is $238,000 yearly for 15 years, this is better than 1/2 mil on our taxes* If the Hayes deal does not happen the taxpayers will continue to own PR for a better deal with many other options. According to our First Selectman every time someone pulled away from buying the Ridge he was inundated with other prospective buyers! *
Bottom line: Hayes pays $700,000 (in 7 years) we the taxpayers pay $225,000, Hayes buys 240 acres of prime Middlefield land for which we receive $475,000. It is a bonanza for Mr. Hayes and a loss for Middlefield and Rockfall taxpayers.
Therefore, I cannot support the sale of Powder Ridge to Hayes under the above circumstances. We can do better; a wise vote is "No" at the Referendum.
Sources: *Town Hall, email (#1)
*Agreement of Sale, page 2 (#2)
*Agreement of sale, page 10 (#3)
*Middlefield Finance Director, Board of Finance (#4)
*Emails on record ( #4)