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City Council approves $3.9 million for downtown park

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Downtown Wilmington could have a very different appearance in the not-so-distant future after City Council approved a $3.9 million purchase of 6.3 acres on the downtown riverfront.

"It's a historic moment," Mayor Bill Saffo said. "The city has been looking for parkland along our riverfront for many years."

After years of searching the Wilmington City Council has found a home for a planned park along the north end of the historic downtown riverfront.

Saffo says the plan is laid out in the vision 2020 plan.

"We'd like to keep it more passive in nature and probably include some type of amphitheater type of facility, where you can have concerts down there if you'd like," Saffo said. "We're also going to look at different types of programs, and that's something we'll be evaluating and taking a look at."

At least one taxpayer is not happy with the council's newest purchase. Paige Freeman says the city swung and missed when it tried to buy the property to build a taxpayer funded ballpark and needs to accept that it struck out with voters.

"I think it's a misuse of taxpayer dollars," Freeman said. "I think a venture of this type should be done by the private sector that can more soundly develop it with no cost or liability to the taxpayer."

Saffo disagrees.

"I don't think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars," he said. "I think the citizens are going to be the biggest benefactors of that, because they're going to enjoy it."

Saffo says that council will take recommendations from Wilmington residents at upcoming meetings as they try to decide their vision for the park property.

A city spokeswoman said the park will be paid for with a combination of funds from the city’s saving account and monies left over from completed capital projects.

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BIG TAX SPENDERS!

"Tax & Spend" is the new motto of Wilmington government. It seems the 7 member Council sits in agreement on most important matters that come before it. The taxpayer funded stadium was overwhelmingly voted down by the citizens, but the same land was just purchased by Council, 2 weeks after re-elections.

So now the taxpayers own this prime riverfront property for $4 million tax dollars, with many, many millions to come from the taxpayer: site prep, infrastructure, construction, parking, maintenance, insurance, patrol & safety needs, etc. Will this prime, unique property ever make a profit in the hands of government? Probably not.

It's not a new motto. I

It's not a new motto. I agree with everything else you said.

"We'd like to keep it more

"We'd like to keep it more passive in nature and probably include some type of amphitheater type of facility, where you can have concerts down there if you'd like," Saffo said. "We're also going to look at different types of programs, and that's something we'll be evaluating and taking a look at."

Couldn't get your baseball stadium...now it's an amphitheater.

"Saffo says that council will take recommendations from Wilmington residents at upcoming meetings as they try to decide their vision for the park property."

I have a vision...sell it.

"I don't think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars," he said. "I think the citizens are going to be the biggest benefactors of that, because they're going to enjoy it."

Well of course you don't think is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Anything you spend our money on isn't wasteful...in your eyes.

""I think the citizens are going to be the biggest benefactors"

By "citizens", I believe $affo was referring to himself and a few other cronies that Wilmington voters just handed over the keys of the bank vault to, yet once again.

Chuck Schoninger's been trying to unload all or some of this land for some time now. With the newly emboldened City Council given a new mandate to plunder the city, this deal was ripe for the plucking. No need for subtly this time around. By not speaking out, the voters couldn't have been clearer about their desire for self abuse.

Hey, when you vote by omission, politicians make a commission.

Privatize It !!!

The best "community" park in Southeastern North Carolina is the Kiwanis Park in Hampstead. The land was donated (apparently, not the case here) and all of the playground equipment, multiple soccer fields, baseball / softball fields, volleyball courts, consession stands, restrooms, walking trails, community gardens, parking lots, landscaping and exercise stations were all paid for by private donations of money and manhours through the Kiwanis Club in Hampstead. Multiple tennis courts are planned and will be installed when the rest of the money is raised. The Kiwanis Club has entered into a partnership with Pender County to help maintain the grounds but VERY little tax money has been spent on a park that has won numerous awards and recognitions. The park is the site of multiple community events a year as well as baseball, softball and soccer tournaments. This park is an example of a community coming together to create something that everyone can enjoy. In contrast, lets see how Wilmington's new park will be recieved after millions of tax dollars are spent or, Wilmington's City Council could travel to Hampstead, look at park built with no tax dollars and then try to find a private partner to emulate what was done in Hampstead.

Wilmington Observer

WO

Kiwanis park is 82 acres - you can't compare the two as that park can offer so much more than 7 acres can.
The park down town will become nothing but a play ground for a very limited number of children by day and a place for criminals and/or drunks to hang out in at night......
Vog

Good Points

one additional. Despite all of his other questionable acts, former State Senator Soles was a driving force in getting this park started. He arranged some very modest state funding which got the ball rolling; and he brought agreement to the parties who were initially opposed to the project.

But I think you're being a wishful thinker to feel "Puffy" Saffo and Council will ever do anything which does not line someone's pocket.

Another case in point, raises for city employees; suddenly funded with a ride along provision for the Mayor and Council.

Voters really have no other party to blame then themselves and the apathetic turnout at the polls.

Next election, send a message. Write in votes for Mayor and Council -- Bozo the Clown for starters.

Done

We already have Bozo the Clown as mayor, Goofy as city manager and Pinocchio as police chief.

You don't have to insult the

You don't have to insult the fictional characters. I love clowns and Goofy has always been my favorite Disney character. I like Pinocchio alright.

Waste of taxpayer money.

Waste of taxpayer money. Why should the residents of Wilmington spend even more money that isn't required. I would much rather invest that money into repairing a very quickly aging infrastructure around the immediate area.

??????

3.9 million is just the beginning. This is the Mayor and Council spitting in the tax payers faces. This is another colossal waste of money that should be used for necessary projects. Follow the money to find out the benefactors of this unnecessary project. The Mayor and Council will not be happy until the riverfront is full of projects that will bankrupt Wilmington. I guess the monumental failure known as the Convention Center needs company. This is what happens when people do not show up to vote.......if the 3 incumbents had failed in their reelection bids, this would not be happening. Cities do not need to take property such as this off the tax rolls.

No offense, but the tax

No offense, but the tax payers are getting what they deserve. They should have gotten off of the couch and voted.

3.9 million- just the start

New figure is now up to over 4 million, started out at 3.7 mil.
Now they will want to spend another 5 plus million to build this park
plus adding a few mil for extending riverwalk and bost docks

very true

Everybody that either didn't vote or voted for these same fools are now getting what they asked for. The simple term 'bohica' comes to mind.

In a prior release

they stated they had no idea where the funding would come from. What changed? No public comments on how the bill will be paid.

The City Fathers have expended more effort in looking after Schoninger than they have expended on any other facet of City business. I hope they at least got the pictures or video recordings from him so the blood sucking will end.

Does this mean Schoninger will be pulling up stakes and leaving the City in straits similar to what he left in Colorado?

OR

will he now focus on the cold storage project and bamboozle millions of dollars for this investment?

How many foriegners have actually received expedited green cards and visas through investing in Mr Schoninger's EB-5 endeavors?

Tom

right now the "wait" for EB-2, EB-3, and EB-5 programs is almost 10 years - this is why the CC Hotel will not get built.
The city has pinned their hopes on an unrealistic belief that the EB-5 program would miraculously get fixed allowing for Harmony Hospitality to rake in $500K per potential immigrant thereby guaranteeing the financing needed to build the hotel.
I think, but cannot be certain that the EB 5 program may somehow be tied up in the long standing immigration fight going on in DC. As you know the GOO does not favor comprehensive immigration reform and is vehemently opposed to a path to citizenship - so I wonder how they feel about someone buying a path to the U.S.
Schoninger was just "paid" for the city's botched attempt at a stadium.

Vog

Look

at his website. Some notables are present espousing EB-5; also several Chinese Nationals who are here via expedited visas.

google

I just google'd his name and have discovered the wake of destruction he has left in his past. It really isn't a big surprise $affo and city council is so willing to jump into bed with him, they are all of the same caliber.
http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=chuck+schoninger+colorado+springs

http://gazette.com/side-streets-hoa-wants-developer-to-pay-for-broken-pr...

Hey Saffo...the people of

Hey Saffo...the people of Wilmington say to take an additional $1,000,000.00 for whatever suits your fancy, so they'll have something to bitch about...because they left you and your helpers to remain seated.
Ain't that a bitch huh :-)
Smile Wilmywouldn't...you might as well...you allowed this, and it only took them 15 days to spend it. I don't blame them one bit.
Next project! Cha-Ching!

who votes

About the only people vote are city employees.

Not quite

I voted and I'm not a city employee. I voted for the new guys and wrote in Ricky Meeks for mayor.

re: who votes

Let's not forget the few thousand real estate agents who vote for Saffo and his cronies.