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Opinion: City government should not be in the land speculation business
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The pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway leads to this 6.8-acre site where apartments and retail are now planned. - photo by Shannon Casas

In Wednesday’s edition, the headline read “City sells land for half what it paid.” The article was addressing the recent decision by our City Council to sell a 6.8 acre parcel at the end of what has become known as the “bridge to nowhere” as well as the former Hall County jail site — for half of what our city paid for the properties. 

Several thoughts come to my mind regarding these land transactions. First, I know the Terwilliger Pappas development company that purchased the 6.8 acre site and has the option on the jail site. I’ve seen their product and it will be a class A development. 

They will do a wonderful job with what is proposed, and their product will be a very nice addition to our downtown. Soon, the “ bridge to nowhere” will lead to somewhere. 

However, the aggregate loss totaling $8.6M taken by our city on the sale of both parcels astounds me. We should all be asking where is the wisdom in this. 

Did the city pay too much for the properties in the beginning or did our city leadership make a bad sell decision just to move the properties off their books? 

Who got enriched as a result of these transactions at the expense of we taxpayers? 

As a city taxpayer, I am very disappointed in my city leadership with the resulting arithmetic and what it will mean for you and me as taxpayers. 

No doubt, many of you have experienced increases in your city taxes. It cost money to deliver city services, and I get that. I don’t mind paying my fair share of tax. However, when my taxes increase to supplement bad business decisions like this, I draw pause as to the quality of our leadership. 

I am reminded of the slogan frequently seen and heard on a popular sports broadcast channel: “Come on man.” We need not look further for any better example of why municipal governments should stay out of the land speculation business!

Mike Allen

Gainesville


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