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Posted on October 30, 2016
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.