Friday, May 1, 2009

Countryside Golf Course Financing – Repost

Countryside Amortiztion

Countryside Amortiztion

Roanoke City as of Fiscal Year 2009 will have paid over three quarters of a million dollars in interest on the $4 million dollar borrowed to purchase the golf course (see the chart from Director of Finance, Ann Shawver). Not only that  but the price for leasing the land that functions as fairways in the runway 6 RPZ (Runway Protection Zone) has increased over 300%. The new lease arrangement with the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission is now $18,000 a year versus the $4800 in previous years. Why the drastic increase? Per Brian Townsend, Assistant City Manager, that during the land swap (another story) and lease renewal in 2008 the Airport Commission had a rental appraiser assess the property. The City was at a disadvantage as the lease was due to expire November 1, 2008. Without the lease the City would have been stuck with land it could use for nothing – no golf course, no nothing. The City then would be left with debt AND maintenance of the property – mowing, etc.

No matter how you look at it purchasing the golf course was a bad idea done in the heat of the housing boom frenzy. ALL land is not good land for development especially at the price of $4.1 million of Roanoke City taxpayers money. If you have not read the November/December Roanoker Magazine article by Elizabeth Parsons it is a must read. Parsons went in-depth on the whole story of Countryside and interviewed developers and appraisers who were less than flattering to Roanoke City Administration in their ill-conceived development ideas of the property.

Even if the last developer who I affectionately refer to as “Foti Fantasy” had come to fruition it was expected that the land would be GIVEN to them for development. Remember the City sold the Colonial Green property to Joyce Graham for the grand total of $35. How’s that development going anyway? Back to “Foti Fantasy” and if that had gone through that would have left the City and the taxpayers STILL holding the debt with nothing to show for it – No land, no golf course, no nothing. By the way, Joyce Graham was turned down to develop Countryside in lieu of Toll Brothers, Inc., who pulled out in January, 2006.

The City should not refinance this debt as was discussed at a City Council briefing on Countryside. It will just lead to even more interest to be paid by the taxpayers of Roanoke. Anyone who has financed their home knows that the first years of payments are mostly interest. Do the taxpayers want to start all over again and pay even more interest up front?

No one has taken the time to sit with the Countryside neighborhood to talk about the property. I could get started and write a novel on this subject with all my FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) material but that would only dredge up memories of deceit, secrecy, and poor judgement. I need to sleep tonight.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Finance

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