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The New Columbia - Great Idea--Bad Process?

Once again the Foster administration prefers to operate as a lone wolf, in a rush to tie up as many deals as possible to prevent anything from stopping the LENS.

I noted with interest the announcement Thursday by a beaming Mayor of the quietly negotiated deal with the Columbia Restaurant Chain for the new anchor spot in the HUB.

Indications are the City will put up $500,000 with the Columbia folks putting up the rest. The lease deal is for 10 years which avoids the waterfront lease issue requiring a referendum, but does include a buyout clause where by the City has to buy out the Columbia if the lease fails to renew. In business I think they call that a poison pill.

On the surface seems like a pretty good deal, the Columbia folks are a class act, the whole food service issue is wrapped up, they also get the small food service area out on the LENS. Nice package.

It seems like the this whole deal was done under the covers. There was no announcement, no solicitation, no bidding process, no opportunity for another even larger provider to make an offer that might lower the City's cash out lay.

No opportunity for public input, even the arts folks seem to have been left out.

I wonder how the  restaurant folks on Beach Drive feel about no opportunity for some input or a chance to bid?

Once again the Foster administration prefers to operate as a lone wolf, in a rush to tie up as many deals as possible to prevent anything from stopping the LENS.

It might also be a good idea to keep any eye on where the campaign contributions come from. 

It would just seem to me that given the continuing public outcry about the LENS process, Mayor Foster would want to be a little more transparent in the dealings with this project.

The City has a very good procurement process that works extremely well. It provides equal opportunity and transparency in the City's procurements. It's just a shame the Administration chose not to use it.

But then following the rules has not been a big concern on the LENS project.

Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

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Johann February 24, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Funny...The Len$ Supporters totally derided the Columbia as a failed business, that required city subsidies & reduced rent, but now that the Lens is proposed, suddenly, the Columbia getting $500,000.00 in taxpayer subisidies (to start) everything is peachy. And it's not a done deal by any means. An "Agreement in Principal" simply means Mr. Gonzmart is looking for the best deal, covering every base, whether it be at the "Shoppes" or at the soon-to-be extinct Lens.
Bill H. February 24, 2013 at 04:05 AM
So, Stephen "I love the Lens no matter who gets screwed over" Urgo is at it again. 130 jobs gained back from a loss of 450. $500,000 from the pot. So what other thing from the $150 million dollar dream that was propossed is going to get out now? The new deal includes a buyout clause where by the City has to buy out the Columbia if the lease fails to renew. Just another way to screw the citizens out of a vote on what happens to their waterfront. We have a right to a vote over anything over ten years without some penalty hanging over us we we don't renew past ten. And as for input, the task force wasn't listened to. The people were only allowed to speak at three of those many meetings and were ignored. The people have spoken in every poll and have been ignored.
Doc Webb's Bay Post February 24, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Stephen I think you missed the point. The City has formal rules, regulations and policies on how contracts, procurements and leases are acquired. The biggest problem with the LENS, besides the really ridiculous design, is the fact that for the most part the City administration and the City Council have tossed the formal and dare I say legal process of entering into agreements into the Bay. When it is convenient and the results will be what they want, the administration follows the rules, when they are not sure they seem to take another route. Had the rules been followed and the original Visioning Committee's actual report been followed we would not have anything that remotely resembles the LENS. Hopefully, but unlikely, City Council will put a hold on the Columbia deal and force the administration to go through a legal bidding process for this extremely valuable asset. Doc
Rider February 24, 2013 at 05:42 PM
YES......BILL H.....YES!~!!!!!!
Nicolas Weathersbee February 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Here is Chris Ballestra saying that it's any lease over 5 years....and now it's ten? Do they just say what fits at the time? What's the truth? http://youtu.be/DNNsLN_U7SY

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