The city, to its credit, held a work session on the current plans for the development of the old hospital on Richland Avenue. This session provided an opportunity for the public to gain early understanding of a major financial commitment prior to the consummation of that commitment. With the ill-conceived project called Renaissance still fresh in memory, the public would be well advised to get involved and assure that they understand and approve prior to the consummation of this potential commitment.
The city provided no opportunity for public input therefore I will utilize this letter as my means to introduce my comments into the public dialogue.
1. In general, I support the demolition of the existing building and constructing new facilities.
2. Some council members appear ready to move forward with WTC. I suggest that WTC be subjected to the standard due diligence that any other contractor would go through to become a contractor for the city.
3. I recommend that the results of that due diligence be shared with the public. Assuming a successful process that would have the effect of establishing – for the public – the justification for using this organization.
4. As I read the hand out from the meeting it appears that the city will borrow money and give it to WTC. The city would be responsible to repay any borrowed funds given to WTC even if WTC defaults on this project.
5. The rate of payout to WTC appears to be well in excess of the funds WTC will expend to accomplish the milestones stipulated to obtain funds from the city.
6. By the time construction begins, WTC will have received $10 million of city-borrowed funds. It is expected that expenditures to this point will be considerably less than that amount.
7. The so called “claw back” is effective only if the project is not completed within 36 months. It is not clear when that 36 months starts.
8. WTC could begin construction and have $10 million of city-borrowed funds. If they should then default WTC would likely have more city funds than expended and the city has no recourse but the courts. Recourse is only available to the city, as per the agreement, at the end of construction.
9. I personally believe that WTC should have funds invested (skin in the game) at all points of the project. I recommend that city payouts be based on a portion of WTC expenditures that have been submitted to and verified by the city.
I like the project. From what I have known of WTC I believe them to be a good choice. Believing is not enough. Prudence on behalf of the taxpayers is in everyone’s interest. If we are going to have a partnership both parties should be invested from the beginning.
Ronald L. Feller