Forget the expensive screw driver… Should A New Coat of Paint Cost $27.3 Million Dollars?

By Raynor James

Eddie Fitzgerald’s recent Sun Journal articles about the New Bern Housing Authority’s dust up with Evergreen of Florida, Transformation Venture Capital, and the Communities Group has me “seeing red.”  Why?

Well, the developer (Evergreen) claims that the Housing Authority breached a contract with it and its limited partners (Transformation Venture Capital, and the Communities Group) relative to Craven Terrace’s future.  However, Mr. Fitzgerald reports that there is opposition from the residents of Craven Terrace to Evergreen’s plans.  He also reports that there is dissension among Housing Authority Board members as to what should be done about Craven Terrace, uncertainty about the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant (going forward with Evergreen’s plans might wipe that opportunity), and doubts expressed by staff.

It looks as if nobody (except the developer and its limited partners) likes the contract.  What does the contract say?  From the articles, it appears that the developer can plan anything they like for Craven Terrace, and the Housing Authority is required to pay for the plan and its implementation whether they, their staff, or the residents like it or not.  If that’s what the contract says, who signed it, and why?  By whom was the authority to sign authorized?  Did the Housing Authority’s law firm, Ward and Smith, advise the signing of such a unilateral contract?

In his articles, Mr. Fitzgerald indicates that the Housing Authority can lose more than a million dollars if the Housing Authority doesn’t go forward with the contract.  How on earth can that be possible when all that has been done is to come up with some very contentious plans that nobody likes nor seems to want to implement? Why didn’t Ward and Smith review the contract before the Housing Authority signed it and tell them they would paint themselves into a very tight corner if they did sign it?

What a royal screw up.  It looks like the taxpayers are having their money wasted.  Again.  And it looks like that, instead of getting less dense housing that’s integrated into the community in such a way as to not be a magnet for gangs and drug dealers, the residents are on track to receive a new coat of paint and a condescending pat on the head from their “betters.”  Everyone involved deserves better than this.

Do you think the Housing Authority needs to hire a new law firm to help them get out from under the thumb of Evergreen and company?  This mess needs to be cleaned up before good money is thrown after bad. And, fellow taxpayers, it’s OUR money.

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