Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Loeffler responds to biased Roundup editorial


(Editor's note: The following was also submitted to the Payson Roundup, which played its usual "this is too long" game.  Loeffler has now submitted a shorter version to the Roundup.  The question: will the Roundup, which is and always has been clearly biased in favor of whatever Payson Mayor Kenny Evans says or wants, run the shorter version?  The Gazette Blog implores them to be fair for a change.) 

By Tom Loeffler
GCC Governing Board Member

In this somewhat charged atmosphere I would like to try to set the record straight on the Gila Community College Campus land transfer. The State of Arizona, several years back, deeded over to Gila County about 54 acres to be use for the future campus of a community college. At a later date the Gila Community College District was formed as well as a governing board to oversee the community college which has been in existence for several years.

In a Nov. 15 editorial the Payson Roundup told the GCC Governing Board, an elected body by the taxpayers, to “GET OUT THE WAY” and let a small group representing private investors determine how part of our campus is to be used. In other words, a private group would take the responsibility away from the elected Governing Board to decide the future of taxpayer land. The taxpayers’ opinions would therefore not be represented in this land transfer. Does that sound like Democracy to you? What was the Roundup drinking?

At a special meeting to discuss the situation, the GCC Governing Board voted unanimously, yes unanimously, to support the position of a four year university in Payson and to transfer a portion of the campus land for that purpose only. The operative word being for the four year university. The Governing Board voted to restrict the land deed to allow only “educational endeavors” be built on the land and not to be used for any "industrial purposes” If the intent of the Separate Legal Entity (SLE) is to only build such buildings as classrooms, dorms and a cafeteria on the land, then there should not be a problem with the deed restrictions for educational buildings only.

To have the elected board of the community college just hand over (transfer) campus land without anything in writing and without any restrictions would be irresponsible on their part. With nothing in writing, anything could be built on the land once it was sold. We desire to have a campus that is suited for educational pursuits and not be next to an industrial park or something. The fact that the SLE is opposing the education only restriction makes one think of the famous line, “Methinks they protest too much.”

The County Board, who is the sell agent in this situation, has turned over about 32 of the 54 acres to the community college, about 5 acres less than the GCC Board’s resolution. How does that translate? Your Community College will get 32 acres for the potential 4,000 to 6,000 students when the town buildout is complete. The SLE will get 22 acres for the 1,000 students they plan to build for in phase one.

One reason the County Board gave for this division was that some residents of Graham Ranch Road wanted their road to extend to the highway and that there was already an easement on the campus for such. Town records do not show any road easement and neither the community college nor the SLE is in favor of such a road going through their campuses.

Remember what was said at the beginning of this article: the State turned over this land for a Gila Community College. The County Board and the GCC Governing Board have both voted to support the four year university in Payson. The GCC Board has asked for deed restrictions on the portion of land to be sold. The County Board’s Dec. 6 board meeting will decide the final disposition of this land. Taxpayers have one more opportunity to voice their views. This land transfer can and should be accomplished for the mutual benefit of all and needs to be done in an open transparent manner.


Anonymous said...

From the beginning the "college" has been as much about the development of things like a large convention center and a solar firm as it has been about education. If the SLE won't agree to building education related structures only on this piece of land, it is obvious why. There is supposedly some $500 million pledged towards this project. Who thinks that kind of money can be drummed up for a four year college only? It's all about the ancillary development.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. I just feel sorry for all the people in this town who are making decisions based on a four-year college coming to Payson. Shame on Kenny Evans, shame on Mike Vogel, and most of all, shame on the Payson Roundup for perpetuating the myth. If it happens at all, it will be at least 10 years before we see a single student.

Noble said...

There will always be people who only see the fertilizer and not the flowers. The two comments above prove the point.
Where do these people think the money will come from to build the ASU campus? The unique arrangement to fund this great venture is a brilliant stroke which eliminates risk from the taxpayers while providing incentive to the lenders. The plan has been explained over and over and over,but some people always come late to a party and criticize the decorations.
Building a convention hotel, a community center, and some other desirable entities are absolutely welcome to the future of Payson, assuming there will be a Payson healthy enough to utilize them. Building a non-polluting small factory to create solar panels (away from the main campus) is another win/win since it will provide energy for the campus and portions of the town. OF COURSE the investors are entitled to a reasonable return on their investment. This is basic economics 101. For them to agree to do this in a way which primarily benefits the college is unprecedented, and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
This opportunity cannot be expected to ever come our way again. Very good and honorable people have worked extremely hard to bring it about. There are ample safeguards all along the way to protect the town and GCC.
This has already been talked to death. Some people can NEVER be satisfied, because their nature won't allow for a view beyond their nose. To allow the project to die because of a relative few naysayers is an insult to the majority of people in this town who see a grand future from it, and a dead-end economy here without it.
You can support Ebenezer Scrooge or Bob Cratchet. The choice is yours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom!
Mayors Evans has played this town and county for fools, far too long.
No institution for higher education is building new campuses anywhere in the world right now. There is no need due to on-line learning. All three state universities have dozens of programs available for community college transfer at substantial savings - right now - without the Mayors land grab. Yes, even GCC/EAC.
Kenny needs to educate himself about what happened to Rick Renzi when he tried the same stunt a few years back.

Anonymous said...

You missed the point.
The argument is not about the goal of an ASU campus - it is the process.
You are convinced the current process is valid and many others do not.
1) There is no published plan for the north side of 260.
2) There is no published list of the SLE investment members.
3) There is no published contract with ASU.
4) The land north of 260 was designated for the community college - when and who changed the designation?
5) Solar cells should be built at the airport industrial park, only problem the market is flooded with Chinese units, the primary reason Solyndra failed.

Noble said...

There are vital time constraints in play.Some benefits have already been lost due to hand wringing and refusal to work towards the broad picture. This project is in serious danger of being nibbled and quibbled and scrubbed to death.
Every concern you bring up has been addressed, and pretty much resolved as fairly and realistically as possible. It isn't a perfect plan, but it's pretty darn close, and it is an amazing plan for the future of this area. Sooner or later, a leap of faith is necessary as in all major decisions. In this case, later is too late.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for Evans history of "untruths", maybe there wouldn't be so many doubts about this thing. I think it's only a matter of time before people started seeing the REAL Kenny Evans, not the one the Payson Roundup is whitewashing.

Noble said...

Take a chance. What could be so bad as to risk killing this project?

Noble said...

Take a chance. What can be so bad that can't be corrected? There is NO indication that this project is a bad thing.

Why continue to risk losing it?