Saturday, November 3, 2012

OpEd: Vote Against Palm Bay Politicians Who Gifted Land



Letter to the Editor: 

 
Let’s look at what happened to Sleepy Hollow – it was a victim of a City planners and council members who a made a deal 2 ½ years ago with Sheldon Fox of Harris Corporation. Although the neighbors applaud Harris for investing 100 million into a campus upgrade, they are outraged that the road project which directly affected them was hidden beneath the Harris hype over the 6-story building project.


No one thought it was necessary to tell the neighborhood what was about to happen. Neither Harris, road project engineers, city manager, public works, nor the Palm Bay City Council bothered to tell Sleepy Hollow that they planned to forever change Clearmont, a dead end street and the only access to their neighborhood. This was done so that the city could “entice” Harris to stay by gifting them Troutman.


Why did Harris want it? So they could rid of their campus of resident thru-traffic. They designed 2 retention ponds on top of Troutman to act as a security moat in front of their new 6-story building.


The City Council laid their decision on Sleepy Hollow – you should have known! We’ve been working on this for 2 ½ years. Yes you have – worked on this behind closed doors. Residents were told by City Manager, Hann that the decision to “align” (steal) 1600 feet of Troutman was a ‘done deal’. Just before being ‘gifted’ to Harris, Troutman was repaved by the taxpayers to the tune of $800,000.00! This federal road money could have gone elsewhere. The City claimed that Clearmont would finally be repaved, but at what cost?


When questioned, “Why did you wait until ‘everything was decided’ to bring us in,” public works director, Twigg stated, “As a City official, you have to be the judge as to what is the greater good for the City”. We are the city! What happened to notifying residents within 500’? Did they really think residents valued pavement over peace, quiet, security, safe bike path access, and low traffic? Harris and the City made a huge blunder leaving out the neighbors. This is what is wrong with Palm Bay; pure arrogance.


Other aspects of the project showed no regard for residents. In uniting Clearmont and Troutman a dangerous, sharp turn, blinded by a Harris building was created. It is an accident waiting to happen. Also, the city claimed they would not take away the safe bike route along Clearmont, a dead end for our children. But when pressed further we found that they planned on running the bike path along the ‘realigned Troutman’ a soon-to-be busy 4-lane road. Even with parental supervision, would you allow your 4, 6 or 8 year old children to run that hazard to get to the bike path in Turkey Creek? Oh, also they managed to somehow get approval to takeover part of Turkey Creek Reserve that is home to Gopher Turtles, hawks and Bob Cats. Where is the EPA outcry when you need it?


This will all take place and Sleepy Hollow residents will be left with its only accesses on a major 4-lane connector road and in line with openings into Harris’ new 1800 car parking lot. Who gets the right of way without a traffic light? -- Harris of course. With an additional 7000 cars per day whizzing by, the neighborhood will no longer enjoy the peace and quiet and safety it has for decades. Our last hope is that Mayor Mazziotti will follow up on the offer he made at the Oct. 4th City Council meeting. He stated that he has no problem approaching Harris to ask them to pay for the traffic light. This is a small token for such a huge loss. While Harris is celebrating their victory over their forgotten neighbors, the Sleepy Hollow subdivision, what can we do?


On November 6th, we can vote against the City Council members, Capote and Paccione who egregiously thought we were unimportant. The harshest critic was Christine Isnardi. She attacked residents rather than trying to relate and help them. We look forward to ousting Ms. Isnardi next year when her term is over. Through it all, Ken Greene, Seat 5, was the sole voice of the people.


Susan Kross