From: John R. Ask
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 7:24 AM
Subject: Laurel Rd Notes
Dear Sheriff Knight:
I am reading today about your immediate challenge of needing an additional $600,000 dollars associated with your homeless personnel and equipment costs; and, you warned more costs are coming. Below is a review of what you already know, but you have allowed politics, and a very short term view, to trump making a good financial decision for Sarasota County taxpayers.
In the way of review, at least some of these financial challenges could have been avoided, and the community would have been much happier with their elected officials for listening, and being much better fiscal stewards of our public money. The land that you are building your vehicle maintenance facility on is valuable! How valuable depends on the zoning the county commission places on the property, but needless to say it’s several million dollars. Better yet, the annual taxes paid on the property would be like an ongoing annuity for the county, and could be a source to address some of your financial needs. For example, a 100 room hotel alone on roughly 4 acres would generate about $250,000 dollars in taxes (as per Sarasota County). This does not include ongoing revenue generated from the jobs created, and guest spending. And, this is just on roughly 4 acres of the parcel which is the typical space a hotel requires depending on site specific details, and the infrastructure sharing with other parcels.
You need a vehicle maintenance facility as you effectively communicated to the three of us Nokomis community leaders when we met prior to this decision being made.
Recall that we provided you with a better alternative that met both your needs, as well as, space for other purposes such as the county white fleet which is another ticking time bomb for county leaders. You clearly communicated to the 3 of us that you could live with the 100+ acre site at Knight’s Trail and Rustic Road. It’s already zoned GU which is the proper zoning for your needs, and is ready for site and development. It’s also on the future North/South connector road between Clark Road and Laurel Road. The site is immediately adjacent many of your other existing facilities. And, best yet, it has little market value from the real estate standpoint vs. the valuable piece on Laurel Road/Honore’/I-75 exit.
At this time you, and the county commissioners, are choosing to spoil the I-75 gateway to Venice and Nokomis with a vehicle maintenance facility, and waste a valuable piece of property that easily could address some of the financial challenges of the county. This is an example of local government being very irresponsible!
There is additional information on this topic on the Nokomis Area Civic Association – NACA website: www.naca-nokomis.com
Dear Mr. Knight and Mr. Maio:
This communication is intended to notify, and perhaps, update you on the feelings and impact of your decision to move forward in constructing the Sheriffs fleet maintenance facility at the I-75 Nokomis (and Venice) gateway entry on Laurel Road and Honore’. If you haven’t viewed the NACA website, perhaps you might wish to in order to learn in detail the thinking of many in the community. It’s our belief that this thinking will only intensify once construction begins and more people in the area learn what is happening.
Noteworthy is NACA has never taken a position toward our elected leaders since inception 17 years ago. Of course, this is the first time that any trusted local officials have been the enemy of our residents vs. our ally; very sad. Not only is our area being permanently damaged by this project, but the significant lost financial gain by the county is a needless, self-inflicted wound, and in our view, fiscally irresponsible. Mr. Knight, you might remember when meeting with Bruce Dillon, Bill Cantrell and myself you clearly stated that you did not care which site (Knight’s Trail adjacent your existing facilities or Laurel Road) your facility was located as long as it could commence without delay as time is of the essence. It was disappointing that you failed to recall and address our meeting contents during your public remarks. And Mr. Maio, you stated that you met with the Venetian Golf and River Club leadership and they do not want the facility on their side of I-75 adjacent the other Sheriff facilities, but that they do not object to it being located on the West side. You then went on to state that they have more votes on their side of the interstate than we do on the West. It’s disappointing that you speculated on potential votes in your next election in reaching your decision. I suspect that this is a rare instance where you failed to seek counsel from your friend and chief political advisor, Bob Waechter, prior to proceeding.
Furthermore, it’s our view that the intent of the Sarasota County Charter is projects such as this should be presented to the voters for a referendum. Initially, this project was to be part of a referendum, but you participated in reaching the decision that this would not be viewed positively by Sarasota County voters. Hence, adapting the alternative strategy of being slippery with the intent of the charter and avoiding a referendum, while technically legal, certainly gives credence to those who believe that some of our local leaders represent a swamp that needs to be sanitized and drained.
Elections matter, and elections are one way to drain our local swamp. In our view citizens should make a priority seeking out, and supporting, individuals wishing to be transparent in serving the community to become the best it can be vs. individuals seeking public office for personal enrichment, retirement benefits, and acting with the priority of helping friends and political allies, and winning another election.
(Ed's. note: bolding added)