Everyone who will be voting on the Irondequoit Community Center proposal should be aware of the financially significant terms contained in the lease agreement between the town and the Skyview Owner. I’ll outline five of the more financially significant terms.
Term one: Base rent is established at $1 per year for 20 years. For the remaining five years of the 25-year lease, rent is determined by “fair market rental.”
Term two: Besides base rent, the town will be obligated to pay additional rent. The additional rent consists of the town’s pro-rata share for monthly operating expenses encompassing the building, the mall and exterior space.
Term three: Under the agreement, the tenant (town) must pay the pro-rata share for “pilot” payments that are attributable to building and exterior area.
Term four: Tenant is responsible for any taxes, charges or assessments against the building and/or exterior area (not exempt by the pilot agreement).
Term five: At the end of the lease term, the tenant has the option to renew at “fair rental value.”
FYI: Lease agreement had been obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request made to the town of Irondequoit. Supervisor Seeley professes open government, yet he hasn’t made the lease agreement publicly known!
The proposal spends public money to enhance/improve and maintain private property.
The Skyview owner(landlord) benefits threefold:
One: Potentially charges other tenants higher rent due to the existence of the center on premises.
Two: enlists the town as a partner in paying operating expenses.
Three: Profits nicely when the property is sold; its value increased at taxpayers’ expense.
Certainly, Mr. Ingrassia’s donation of space at the former Irondequoit Mall is more like a shrewd business transaction than a gift to the town.
By the way, the $18 yearly tax increase just covers the interest and principal of the $7.25 million dollar bond (monies to be used for the construction and equipping the new community center). How much more will it cost when you take into consideration term two, three and four?
Read on if you need more reasons to vote no on July 30.
Observations that are actually major concerns I have of the proposal:
Concern No. 1: The focus groups admittedly had not looked at any other place for the community center. Therefore, they failed to acknowledge the resources now in Irondequoit that could accommodate the desired social and athletic activities. Furthermore, it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer one extra cent.
Concern No. 2: As stated on the referendum page in legal notices, appearing in The Post on May 30, the total estimated cost of the project is $9.5 million. Nine-and-half-million dollars is two and a quarter million more than the widely publicized figure of $7.25 million.
Concern No. 3: The referendum had not explicitly stated for the establishment of a police substation at Skyview, although police presence near the center is expressed on the town’s website. Will the space occupied by the police operate under the same lease terms as the community center? What’s its impact on property taxes?
Concern No. 4: Several negative findings have been uncovered by the consultants’ feasibility study and market assessment:
The number of residents aged 25-44 will have a projected loss of 1.6% by 2022 from the 2010 level while residents aged 65-74 will have a projected gain of 66.4%. Interpret this statistic as the higher the median age, the lower the participation rate for most activities at the center.
The median household income is below the county, state and national levels. This would make it difficult for the community center “to recover 100% of its associated operational cost.” So, the expectation is that the facility will “operate in the red for the first five years.”
Consultants recommend increasing the number of full and part-time staff from eight to 14 employees. Increase in payroll cost, as well as the extra cost for utilities, maintenance and insurance, will expand the budget.
Even though our taxes will rise upon the project’s approval, residents must still pay a daily admission fee or yearly membership fee to use the recreational facilities at the center. Ingenious, residents pay twice while nonresidents pay once.
The “likelihood the facility will need additional funds from the town to maintain recreational services.” Also the possibility that it will never be self-sustaining.
A small sampling of the population participated in the survey. Sixty-four percent of the participants reside in the 14617 zip code area, primarily West Irondequoit and the majority of the participants ranged in age from 25 through 44 years old. There were 893 women and 281 men who participated in the survey, hardly representative of the entire Irondequoit community.
The feasibility study indicated that “alternative service providers can influence membership.”
Are the consultants referring to the Irondequoit Public Library, I-Square, LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, Riedman Campus Wellness or the public high schools?
Since 2017, Irondequoit has expended at least $19,000 on consultants’ fees. We shouldn’t spend another 19 cents let alone $9.5 million on this pitfall-riddled project.
The Skyview owner waves a dollar a year lease agreement (i.e., carrot) before town hall and the administration becomes enamored with the plan so much so that they agree with the atrocious terms in the lease, they disregard the negative findings revealed by the feasibility/market analysis and even ignore basic common sense.
Rather, the solution rests before their very eyes yet they fail to see because the town officials are too busy watching the swinging carrot.