Letter: Fiddlers Green is financial millstone
St Johns, FL
The Fiddlers Green boondoggle is that special kind of pork barrel spending that just will not die. The county acquired the property in 2006 for the staggeringly out of bounds price of $5.5 million dollars.
Special interests, among them AMCD Commissioner and head of the Vilano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, Vivian Browning, convinced the Board to move forward with this project; aided by an incredibly foolish grant of $4 million dollars from the Florida Lands Trust.
What is even more shocking is the original agreement, known to the county commissioners in 2006, that obligated us to “develop and staff a nature museum”. The financial impact of this on the county was never revealed to the taxpayers in the original approval, nor in the recent presentation to the Board.
In their zeal to appeal to every interest group in the county that they perceived could bring votes, the 2006 Commission made an extremely stupid deal that will continue to be a financial millstone around the taxpayer’s neck for decades — if not CENTURIES to come.
We need to know all the options and obligations at this critical juncture, not the weak explanation offered during the most recent action by the current Commission; which could extend and perpetuate this losing proposition. It may be more beneficial to take the financial write-off and return the property to the State.
We cannot allow this to become another un-ending financial mess like the Amphitheater, the Equestrian Center and Taj Mahal-1. It is already one of the most egregious examples of pork barrel spending in the county’s history.