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Undisclosed Developers Influenced Myers Park Development Vote

Posted on October 30, 2016

Undisclosed Developers Influenced Myers Park Development Vote

Tallahassee Reports has learned that a 4-1 City Commission vote supporting a proposed development that will impact the Myers Parks neighborhood was influenced by unnamed developers, raising questions about transparency.

The City of Tallahassee publicly noticed an agenda item for the October 26th meeting under the title, “Update on Myers Park noise mitigation wall”.

However, the 4-1 vote on the item ended up supporting the redevelopment of approximately ten acres owned by the city of Tallahassee that is located between Cascades Park and the Myers Park neighborhood.

The property is the current home of the City of Tallahassee Parks and Recreation offices.

About 10 residents from Myers Park attended the meeting and voiced concerns about the impact of the development on the historic neighborhood.

How did an issue over sound from Cascades Park finish with a vote to pursue a new development?

The City Commission was slated to discuss the building of a wall between Cascades Park and Myers Park at the cost of $475,000. However, City staff told the City Commissioners that developers had expressed an interest in buying the land.

From the agenda item:

There have been several inquiries from the development community regarding the potential development of the subject property.

The City staff told the City Commissioners that the development could be a sound barrier and alleviate the need for a sound wall.

From the agenda item:

In short, the residential structures could become the sound wall and the people impacted by the sounds of Cascades Park would be those who desire to be close to the park (and amphitheater). The Planning Department’s housing concept seeks to mitigate noise impacts from the adjacent Cascades Park while providing a broader array of housing options than is currently available in the immediate vicinity.  The proposed housing concept development program could yield approximately 100-150 residential units at a density of 10-15 dwelling units per acre.

Tallahassee Reports asked for the names of the developers who expressed an interest in the property. However, the City refused, citing confidentiality.

Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder told TR:

I am routinely called by developers and their representatives who inquire about properties. In many cases they are attempting to develop plans and ideas that they are not willing to divulge. As long as they do not put anything in a public record, I respect their request to not release their ideas or information. Such is the case regarding the Parks and Recreation administration complex property.

The response by the City raises questions about transparency and influence.

Do the developers have financial ties with the City of Tallahassee? Are the developers campaign donors to City Commissioners? Should the developers be registered as lobbyists?

TR will continue to investigate.

19 Responses to Undisclosed Developers Influenced Myers Park Development Vote

  1. Phil Reply

    October 30, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Before just assuming that the proposed development will mitigate the sound, why not commission a sound study that models the proposed development and its impacts on sound.

    We really won”t know for sure until a study is done. It may have little impact on sound, or it might make it worse.

    Let’s not make another mistake and move forward without a study and the data for decsion-making.

  2. Concerned citizen Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Likely same developers and/or interests involved with the Edison. It’s governed to the highest bidder. Why else would you approves development of this density in the only neighborhood with a historic preservation designation? This is not Gaines Street. This doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood, address traffic concerns, and is being pitched as sound mitigation. Let’s call it what it is. A sweetheart deal for a developer funded by taxpayers just like the Edison. Wait and see if they pay fair market for the property.

  3. Franklin Thompson Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 9:30 am

    If you read Wayne Tedder’s (Assistant City Manager) comments from the TD, it sounds as if he already has the Architectural Review Board’s votes lined up, so as to go ahead with construction. As an aside, is there going to be no end to the continuous ‘new’ expenditures that seem to be the norm for the cascades park debacle. All of you know that the flooding problem and the coal degassification issue could have been resolved without a ‘cascades park’ type of add on…right?

  4. Bill Carlton Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 11:15 am

    The issue is simple; quit having concerts at Cascades Park and the noise problem will be solved; the concerts are a big loser anyway. The taxpayers have to subsidize the cost of the concerts because there is not enough revenue generated from the concerts to pay for themselves. Stopping the concerts would be a double victory-noise relief for the Woodland Drives and Myers Park Neighborhoods and monetary relief for the taxpayers subsidizing these events who get no benefit from them.

    I live on Park Avenue. When I step outside on the nights they are having concerts at Cascades Park, I can hear the noise. I can imagine how aggravating and distracting that can be to the residents of Myers Park and Woodland Drives who have to go to work the next day and are trying to sleep.

    This city commissioners need to “reign” the planners in. This wasteful spending has to stop. It is one persons(or a few persons) vision for such projects as the 7.5 Million Dollar Bridge over South Monroe Street, Governors Walk, and FAMU Way. These projects are not necessary and are wasteful spending for which their will be no economic return to the taxpayers.

    Common sense dictates the best place to solve the noise problem generated from the concerts is on-site-where it is coming from, at the bandstand in Cascades Park. I would seriously doubt building townhouses on that 10 acres would sufficiently diffuse noise levels enough to give the residents of Myers Park and Woodland Drives any relief. It is just a guise to give the 10 acres away.

    I would also doubt there is any real benevolence involved on the part of the city in helping these residents. I am willing to bet that someone tied in with city staff or the city commission will be the recipients of that 10 acre parcel of land.

  5. Robert Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I live in Myers Park within 2 blocks of the amphitheater and have no problem with the noise.
    A small cliche of neighbors decided they did and nagged, bitched and whined until they received a promise to build a $500K wall.
    Did they really think the city would spend $500K to shut up a handful of malcontents? More fool them.
    This project is the direct result of their confrontational and intransigent attitude.
    Personally, I love the park and the noise and all the people who visit. I am grateful to the city, blueprint 2000 and the taxpayers of Leon county for being willing to do more than just the minimum.
    However, I do think that ANY development should conform to the existing zoning of RP-2.

    • daisyduck Reply

      November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you for being a voice of reason. The wall was awful.

    • Jon Reply

      November 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Well you can always move to somewhere you like. Why should people have to move out to get away from something someone else put there that they never wanted? Thats what going to happen here.

      • Ned Reply

        November 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

        I live in the Myers Park neighborhood and I love the park and events. Cascades and all of its amenities is one of my favorite things about the neighborhood. Should I complain about the noisy trains, FAMU marching 100 practicing at 2:00 am, or FSU shooting off fireworks after a game? I could, but why would I? Noise is part of living in an active city/urban core where you and I have chosen to live. You should expect growth and change to continue as our community becomes more vibrant. I don’t know about you but cascades has had a positive impact on my property values.

  6. Ben Poitevent Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Ask Assistant City Manager Tedder for the specific statutory exemption to the Public Records law on which he is relying.

  7. R B Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Agree with Bill Carlton 100%.This whole Cascade Park was a fiasco from the git-go with tax payers footing the BP 2000 experiments with their money. A 6 foot drainage ditch with 6 inches of foul filthy water in the bottom blown into this $35 million dollar “entertainment park “plus that “glider” looking thing they call a $7.5 million dollar bridge across Monroe Street. How gullible we taxpayers have become for every Tom , Dick and Harry, that comes down the Pike (in a government job whose sole purpose is to spend your money) with I know better than you as to what you need as taxpayers for the common good of ALL??? Enough already. And Robert—you are a negligible minority living in Myers Park, that prefers the Cascade noise that has, is, and will ruin Myers Park. Meyers Park folks need to get their act together before this gets any worse and file a class action lawsuit that just by chance might wake up some folks at city hall . Do not ply the defensive game—go on the offense before it is too late —-again !

  8. Ethics Hound Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    It appears to me that felony theft of city property is being accomplished In a sweetheart deal engineered by Wayne Tedder.
    Before he goes much further he ought to examine if he can handle the view of the world through a 5-inch wide window in a concrete cell. Some people get stuck with views like that for 15-to-20….
    Just sayin’ what it looks like.

    If the city commissioners really wanted to be honest and above board, they would put it to the people in a vote, and advertise it publicly for sale, if a majority of citizens really wanted to throw away our finest property for a one time sale to pay for who knows what trash.

    Wayne Tedder moved forward once before (in Lafayette Park) with documents he knew were defective with false signature authorizations. He babbled his way out of consequences on that deal, when Nancy Miller was on the planning board. This pair goes back a long way with dealing in the shade.

    • Franklin Thompson Reply

      November 1, 2016 at 9:25 am

      I live on the outskirts of the ‘Lafayette Park’ area and I remember the meeting when Wayne Tedder all but tried to assist a small group that wanted this area to be placed on the National Historical Register. It was beaten down and has since ‘died on the vine’… for now. Myers Park area residents need to do the same thing. Beat up on these planners until they cannot get up.

  9. Tom Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Yes, there are enough lawyers that live in those neighborhoods. File a lawsuit and stop this hair brained idea before it gets legs. Get a judge to issue an injunction. Play hardball from the beginning because you are up against scheming people who try to tell the public what’s best for them using half truths.

  10. Tom Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    also. the star trek bridge wasn’t needed. The cascades trail could have come up Adams St to Bloxham and gone under Monroe St a block or two north, and entered right into the western part of the park. A few 100k instead of 7.5M

  11. Mike Reply

    November 1, 2016 at 9:05 am

    1. City says they’re having a meeting on Oct. 26-16. One meeting agenda item is listed as discussion regarding building a wall to block noise from Cascades Park concerts.

    2. City pivots inexplicably from the publicly stated agenda item subject and discusses selling property to unknown developers who will build a “sound-blocking set of dwellings” to paraphrase their reasoning.

    3. When asked to name the unknown developers, Asst. City Manager Wayne Tedder cites “privacy concerns” of the developers and declines to identify them.

    4. Prediction: In a few months or weeks, with no clear disclosure of any possible relationships with city officials, a brief, quiet announcement will be rapidly followed by ground-breaking on the new development. Once constructed, the involved parties will reap the benefits of the development, in whatever form you wish to speculate.

    5. Another suspect pay-for-play project completed by the city. Next agenda item, please.

    If the city has absolutely no relationship or involvement with the unknown developers, they can easily prove that with very little effort. Let’s see if they proactively do so on their own, or if legal levers are required to wring transparency from them, as is so often the case.

  12. DavidB Reply

    November 1, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    These “developers” will doubtless be the same ones behind the Edison, and want to put Gadsden St. style “residential structures” with apartments full of students over strip mall style business to include restaurants, head shops, and bars.

    A Gillum & Assoc. wet dream.

    • Jon Reply

      November 3, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Im guessing condos for govt officials who are never here.

  13. Kerri McGuire Reply

    November 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    File a public records request for the phone records of the department or individual in the time span you are wondering about. The Sunshine manual explains that this is not optional.

    They are performing a meeting with a public official and accordingly, while a transcript is not required, they cannot refuse to disclose who they spoke to, or the general content of that conversation.

    “Thus, in Bill of Rights, Inc. v. City of New Smyrna Beach, No. 2009-20218-CINS (Fla. 7th Cir. Ct. April 8, 2010), the court concluded that billing documents regarding personal calls made and received by city employees on city-owned or city-leased cellular telephones are public records, when those documents are received and maintained in connection with the transaction of official business; “and, the ‘official business’ of a city includes paying for telephone service and obtaining reimbursement from employees for personal calls.” See also AGO 77-141 (copies of letters or other documents received by the mayor in his official capacity constitute records received “in connection with the transaction of official business” and therefore are public records). Compare Inf. Op. to Burke, April 14, 2010 (while the licensing board, and not Attorney General’s Office, must determine whether a letter, allegedly sent to the board by mistake, had been received by the board in connection with the transaction of official business, the board “may wish to consider whether circumstances characterize how the document was received, such as does the letter relate to a past, existing, or potential investigation by the board”).”

    They may also have to disclose the summary content of the meeting:

    “The term “minutes” as used in s. 286.011, F.S., contemplates a brief summary or series of brief notes or memoranda reflecting the events of the meeting; accordingly a verbatim transcript is not required. AGO 82-47. And see State v. Adams, No. 91-175-CC (Fla. Sumter Co. Ct. July 15, 1992) (no violation of Sunshine Law where minutes failed to reflect brief discussion concerning a proposed inspection trip). Cf. s. 20.052(5)(c), F.S., requiring that minutes, including a record of all votes cast, be maintained for all meetings of an advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body adjunct to an executive agency.”

  14. Phil Reply

    February 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Big meeting this week at City Hall on the Parks and Rec office site.

    Why not just leave it RP2 and sell the land to a developer to sell lots for nice homes. 20 lots at 50k each could pay for the wall.

    Win-win

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