November 8, 2013 6:31 pm ET
By the very definition of the word “sale,” people tend to expect some sort of savings. However, that is not the case for the sale of the North Point Government Center, folks.
To put it mildly, get ready to take a bath. According to the county, the controversial property sale will cost us millions!
This shocking reveal comes from my “secret source” (I will give you some hints—it has no name and does not speak). All I will say is that the information came right from the proverbial horse’s mouth.
Let’s start with a quote from Mr. Kamenetz. It’s a little long, but keep reading:
“The County is faced with the need to replace three aging facilities. The old way was for the County to borrow money – taxpayer dollars – and rebuild the facilities, taking on additional debt,” stated County Executive Kamenetz. “Our County Government must do business differently during these tough economic times. The old models simply will not work if you are committed to investing in public education, public safety and rebuilding an aging infrastructure while keeping tax rates stable. From the beginning, the County’s goal was to get these properties back on the tax rolls, generating revenue for the County and providing jobs while still constructing modern fire and police stations to serve future generations, and fund additional school renovations. I am confident that the Council will evaluate each project on its merits as the next phase of this effort.”
We all get the message loud and clear–let’s save some taxpayer money and take an innovative stance in dealing with these tough times.
Honestly, that would be a welcome course of action. The problem is, though, that’s not quite what happened, especially in dealing with the NPGC. It kind of reminds me of another “well-crafted” (*cough*) plan that’s not working out too well, either.
But in the interest of keeping things on the level, let’s look at the figures—particularly the ones that bring this fuzzy picture into view clearly. (You should keep in mind that the bean counters have a different spin on things, but we’ll get to that later.)
Here’s the bottom line, and it’s a wing dinger: “The County proposes to renovate and re-locate the precinct to the now closed Eastwood Elementary School site, representing an upgrade from the current facility. The cost of the renovation is estimated at $5 million.”
I drove by the school today and noticed … nothing. Everything about the property was the same as it was on the day the school closed. I thought that was strange considering the anticipated move of the precinct to this location.
My next thought was, “It ain’t gonna fit. [sic] Too many police cars and not enough parking lot.”
That is unless the police are going to get really creative with their parking…
Regardless, we’ve learned that the cost of the renovation is estimated at $5 million. That’s going to go in the negative column folks, so keep that off to the side while we look at some more figures.
From my secret source: “Present value of sale; $5 million for approximately one half of the (current NPGC) site.”
Meanwhile, the Maryland State Office of Budget and Management appraised the property at $8 million.
(Get ready to cue the trumpets. Drumroll, please.)
And now, the figure you’ve all been waiting for—the bid from Vanguard Commercial Development, Inc. is … $2,105,355 for 15 acres of the 27.8 acres of the NPGC. (Cymbal crash – trumpets sound – taxpayers gag.)
OK, did you do the math? Are you seeing what I’m seeing?
Another interesting piece to this puzzle is BG&E, which has a gas line running in close proximity to the ball fields, not to mention the electrical towers on site. Did I mention there must be a 600 foot clearance around the tower? Take a look a the images on the county’s website and see what you think.
The plot thickens…
Vanguard’s plans also show an intrusion into the radio tower space, which requires a 200 foot radius in any direction per the Baltimore County Code Section 426.6, 17-2002 concerning wireless telecommunications facilities.
This law applies as the Government Center is currently zoned residential and will remain so until 2017. The only way for this to change is through a PUD.
Now, I’m not a math whiz, but these figures don’t add up. That is unless you look at all of the “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” stuff, as well as the projected (we think) numbers supplied by the county’s office of bean counters (or wishful thinkers, as the case may be).
Think about this for a moment. There are 164 vacant storefronts in Dundalk. Why would Vanguard want to build another commercial venture? Not to mention the almost vacant Diamond Point Shopping Center—soon to be another victim of the economy, Eastpoint, and the already DOA Diamond Point graveyard.
Meanwhile, there is another question that will play a key role in this venture. As a taxpayer, I really hate this term—tax breaks for the developers.
The Sun did a rather interesting piece on that issue involving who picks up the tab on these deals.
In the end I guess the council will vote (*cough*rubber stamp*cough*) this rather peculiar sale. Or, should we call it a “sail” instead? Because, based on the number of holes in this deal, this ship is about to sink.