Mayor Don Atchison should explain nature of relationship with Lake Placid CEO Michael Lobsinger; City administration flip-flops on Parcel “Y”
On November 9, 2009, the city clerk’s office received an email from Lake Placid Developments CEO Michael Lobsinger requesting permission to address city council at its November 16, 2009, meeting regarding River Landing Parcel “Y” in
Coincidentally, November 9 was the date the city’s executive committee met for the first time since the civic election. The meeting was held in-camera.
The recipients of the email included Janice Mann and Joanne Sproule (Clerks), Murray Totland (City Manager), and Jack Manning (Solicitors). No problems so far. That is, until you get to the last name on the list: Don Atchison.
On the surface, it may seem insignificant, but when you consider what’s at stake it becomes important.
A day earlier the newspaper described Parcel “Y” as a “prime piece of city-owned riverfront land.” [
It appears Lobsinger sent the email to
Unlike the city manager, city clerk and city solicitor,
The word “Home” appears beside
This could be perceived by some as inappropriate and perhaps even unethical. It also raises a few questions that deserve answers.
Who gave the developer
Do any other developers have the mayor’s home email address? If so, who are they and do they correspond with him?
Something else that needs to be considered is that if Atchison is exchanging emails with developers – or anyone else for that matter – from his home and city business is involved, then that correspondence is likely not subject to the province’s freedom of information legislation and therefore would be free from public scrutiny and accountability. This is unacceptable.
For the sake of openness and transparency
Unfortunately, the concerns don’t end there.
On October 30, 2009, the mayor issued a news release stating that the city “did not receive payment from Lake Placid Developments for the purchase price of Parcel Y.”
With this in mind an email was sent to city manager Murray Totland on November 4, 2009, asking him how long the developer would be allowed to keep its trailer and two billboards on Parcel “Y”.
Totland responded later that day stating: “Now that our agreement with
The city manager’s response was absolutely the right thing to say. The city’s agreement with
“There’s no more chances,” the mayor said. [
Something obviously happened in the days that followed because more than a week later
A follow-up email was sent to Totland and the city’s special projects manager, Sandi Schultz, on November 13, 2009, asking them when the letter was going to be sent to
In her email Schultz said: “The Executive Committee at their meeting of November 23 will be considering, in their public agenda, River Landing, Parcel “Y” options. City Council at their November 16 meeting invited Mr Lobsinger to make a presentation to the Executive Committee meeting at the time they are discussing River Landing Parcel “Y”. A letter will be sent to Lake Placid Holdings Inc. following a decision on the Parcel “Y”.”
By this point Totland and Atchison seemed to be singing a different tune as well.
If Lobsinger comes to council with funding in place for the site “it would be a pleasant circumstance,” Totland told the StarPhoenix.
“We’ve supported their development and we still believe a Lake Placid-like development would be a good one for River Landing,” he said.
This is completely contrary to what council resolved on August 19, 2009, and what
It’s beginning to look as if the table is being set for the wholesale sell-out and betrayal of council’s August 19 resolution.
Council is already bankrupt of any integrity or credibility as a result of its ongoing disgraceful conduct concerning the
UPDATE: According to a city manager’s report posted to the city’s website late on November 19, 2009, the administration “is recommending that Parcel “Y” and the land adjacent to Parcel “Y” be consolidated. A Request for Proposals (RFP) similar to the previous document is to be developed that requires proponents to agree to a fixed purchase price. An appraisal will be undertaken to determine the current land value for the consolidated parcel.”
However, in the article Open bids recommended for River Landing site (StarPhoenix, November 20, 2009) the StarPhoenix confirms that administration is willing to ignore that recommendation if Lobsinger shows up at the November 23, 2009, executive committee meeting with the financing in place.
“If he comes to the table ready to build, city council has the option to sell the land directly to the developer, an option the city’s administration would support to avoid a potential funding shortfall and mill rate hit for the year-to-year operation of the $82.1-million River Landing project, which will be completed by 2012, officials say,” reporter David Hutton said.
What Hutton fails to say, though, is that nowhere does administration say this in its three-page report to the executive committee. The newspaper does not explain why the information was omitted. Furthermore, the StarPhoenix is neglecting to tell readers that administration’s support of a direct sale would be a complete reversal from what the city manager told city council at its August 19, 2009, meeting:
“Administration is prepared to recommend an extension of the time for payment to 5:00 p.m., October 30, 2009, (October 31 is a Saturday). The extension would be conditional upon Lake Placid paying the accrued interest noted above by 5:00 p.m., August 31, 2009. In the event that this payment is not received, both sale agreements would be at an end and Lake Placid would forfeit the deposits paid under the Parcel Y agreement. This would occur without further resolution of Council. Similarly, if payment of the full balances owing under each agreement is not received by 5:00 p.m. on October 30, 2009, both agreements would also be at an end without further resolution of Council,” the report said.
Lake Placid made the August 31 deadline but missed the one for October 30. The agreement is terminated, but administration is now prepared to betray its own words and overlook it.