Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Westfield Scraps Vote On Taxpayer-Funded Soccer Arena, Confident Of Favorable Court Ruling

Westfield city council members are so confident that Hamilton Circuit Court Judge Paul Felix plans to rule in their favor that they tabled a planned second vote on the controversial Grand Park soccer arena the mayor and key council members negotiated in secret with the politically-connected Holladay Properties before awarding the developer a 25-year, $53 million contract to build a new indoor soccer arena. Mayoral candidate Jeff Harpe filed a lawsuit seeking to block construction of the soccer arena after the state's Public Access Counselor indicated council committee meetings at which the deal were discussed prior to the initial public vote on it violated the state's Open Door Law.

The council restarted the hearing process and planned another vote on the project in January, but an agreement to dismiss the lawsuit was scuttled after the city's attorney said the city would seek sanctions against Harpe for filing the lawsuit. Harpe's lawsuit omitted his most powerful agreement for scuttling the deal. Mayor Andy Cook was mandated by a state law to conduct an RFP process that allowed prospective developers to participate in a competitive bidding process, a process that he skipped entirely. An out-of-state professional soccer arena operator, which Cook had originally lined up to manage the indoor soccer arena, walked away from the deal only weeks before Cook publicly announced the deal because it complained the project was being artificially inflated by as much as 25% through excessive development fee payments being made to Holladay Properties.

Under the 25-year deal, Holladay Properties is taking out a loan to construct the arena under a credit tenant-financing type agreement that puts Westfield city taxpayers on the hook to make lease payments to the developer under one-sided, "hell or high water" terms under which the City will own the facility at the end of the contracted lease term. The city is entering into a contract with a third party, Indiana Sports Properties, to manage the indoor soccer arena and hopes that revenue generated from the indoor soccer arena, including rental fees and a lease agreement with Jonathyn Byrd's for a restaurant will generate sufficient revenues to make the mandatory lease payments totaling $53 million. If those revenues are insufficient, Westfield taxpayers will be on the hook to backstop those expenses. Harpe has filed a second Open Door lawsuit claiming those lease agreements were secretly-discussed by the council's finance committee in violation in violation of the law before being approved by the full council.


Anonymous said...

Private citizens of Westfield need to VOTE this May in order to end the tyrannical rule of Cook, who has copied Obama's actions and operates by the credo: "Stop me if you can".
The City Council is a joke, comprised of YES men who genuflect to the Mayor constantly, instead of acting as the proper check and balance on his actions and spending.

Anonymous said...

So the yes men in Westfield are as busy as the Integrity Division of the Dept of Justice under Obama in thwarting fraud and corruption. Your boy Cook is more like Pence, Ballard, Turner, Bosma, Judges, Council members and more. Not too mention Mike Pence. Vote.

Sir Hailstone said...

Anon 12:36 - No kidding! C(r)ook and his crony Carmelian counterpart (No)Brainard both need to go .... and probably straight to federal prison