THE M.O.U. - WHAT IS THE REAL DEAL?

The written “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) signed by Mayor Tom Gunderson, and Wells College Lisa Ryerson and developer Pleasant Rowland for the Aurora Foundation LLC, contains important features which were NOT presented in the public meeting on December 29.

One wonders if our Village Trustees even saw this “P.O. for Parkland” agreement in writing before voting to approve it. See it for yourself now in the Village Office or have a copy made for a modest fee.

Some items of interest in the written document:

Premature Proposal. The entire agreement "requires the relocation of the United States Post Office into...the Heary Building," something to which the USPS has not yet agreed. [See 1a]

A Pig in a Poke. The Village doesn’t get the parkland for its PO . According to the MOU, the Village must give up its post office building AND issue all the permits necessary for the new Pleasant Parking Lot. But the elaborate parking lot plans have not been finalized. The MOU says they “may be revised at the discretion of the Foundation and the College.” So, our trustees agreed that in order to get new parkland, the village boards will approve plans that have not been (and need not be) fully revealed. [2-b and 3-a]

Set in Stone? Some aspects of the proposed parking lot are not supposed to be subject to revision, including: a western extension of Cherry Ave., increased parking spaces, improved lake views, and a roadway to our existing village park (previously destroyed by Rowland's development). [2b i-iv]

Not really. But the Village must accept price-reducing “modifications” of the parking lot project if the expense exceeds $1 Million for all construction and any litigation costs. So, if Rowland overspends, sues, or hits another buried gas tank, the spending cap may force unwelcome changes -- such as the elimination of MOU's promised restoration of our public vehicular right of way to the downtown village park. [2-g]

Ongoing Taxpayer Cost. The MOU requires that "the Village will be provide all necessary maintenance for the parking lot, including, but not limited to, cleaning, striping, snow removal service of the entire parking lot, including the driveway and the loading dock of the Aurora Inn, at its cost and expense." [2h]

What’s the Hurry? Rowland is very eager to ram this project through. To speed up the process, she expects our Code Enforcement Officer to give the project preferential treatment and she asks the Planning Board and Community Preservation Panel to hold extra meetings. [2-e]

New Ultimatum. And she issues another deadline: all permits must be issued by March 31, 2006 or "the Foundation and College shall have no obligation to proceed," although "the parites may mutually agree to extend the date." [2-j]

What Would We Get? A leased 12' right of way from the college dock's parking lot along the lake shore south to Clifton Creek. Some clear, flat, accessible lake-front land north of Clifton Creek, currently used as open space, leased to the Village at $1 per year for 30 years. A slightly more elevated parcel of lake-front scrubland covered with trees and undergrowth, across from the ball field, south of Clifton Creek and north of Poplar Ridge Road deed to Village ownership. As this land is all in the flood plain, public development could be restricted or prohibited by the Department of Environmental Conservation or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. [3-a and maps]

But the College Keeps Control. The MOU states that "plans for any improvements [of the new parkland] shall be submitted to and approved by the College.” And, any improvements shall be developed “on a time line to be mutually agreed upon by the Village and the College.” [3 b-d]

And Expense is Incurred Immediately. The MOU requires that the Village obtain a general liability insurance policy in the amount of $10 Million for the leased land. More coverage probably would be needed for the land deeded to the Village. [3-e]

While the Secrecy Continues. The MOU attempts to prevent our elected government from acting in an open, free, democratic manner in regard to this project. The Village Board must not make any statements to the public or press about the project without approval from Rowland and Wells. (Pardon me: what country are we living in?) Also, all individuals and agencies involved must treat information about the project as "confidential." [4]


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This page last updated February 5, 2006