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Monday, November 13, 2006

County Land Deal or No Deal?

* Revised *
Part 1:When the stadium story was first reported, the drive to build the Beloit Snappers a new stadium was the top priority of it's number one advocate, businessman Jim Fitzgerald.
JG excerpt:
Fitzgerald – former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors – said he does not stand to profit from getting the Snappers a new stadium. He became friends with Snappers management officials recently, he said. “I just met these fellas, and they were frustrated,” he said. “I have one objective, and that’s to get that stadium built in that location.”

Part 2: Somehow, the drive to build the Snappers a new stadium quickly evolved into an elaborate if not complicated plan to also move the county fairgrounds, build an auto race track, and start up a gravel mining operation to fund a charitable foundation.

The land where they (private investors) want to do all this, they don’t want. Instead they want to trade it to the county in exchange for other prime county owned land. Besides convoluting the deal with all of their dreamy plans, the investors want to swap land for land and are not only paying the $1.3 million difference in appraised values, but adding a no-strings-attached $7 million gift. As reported earlier in the Janesville Gazette, the total cash offered is $8.3 million, providing the county seals the deal before the new year. That is one of the catches.
JG excerpt:
Mulder would pay the county $7 million. Even if the stadium-fairgrounds complex or mine plans fall through, the county would accept the $7 million as further cash for the land trade.

Part 3: The obvious eventually becomes reality when some of the smoke clears. The stadium no longer is the primary incentive here as explained by Fitzgerald. Now a charitable foundation funded by profits of a mining operation on the land they don’t want, takes center stage.
JG excerpt:
”The potential is incredible,” he said. The stadium and fairgrounds are “almost insignificant” compared to the foundations potential, Fitzgerald said. “Everything is dwarfed compared to that foundation.”

Part 4: But then as more dust settles, it changes again. Fitzgerald says forget everything else, just make the land deal.
JG excerpt:
“To me, it’s so simple.” Said Fitzgerald. “Just get this down to one thing – just farmland for farmland – and forget all this other stuff.”

From my understanding, the private parties approached the county with the land swap deal. The sought after county land had not been previously marketed or put on the auction block.
JG excerpt:
Jim Fitzgerald, a Janesville businessman and one of the supporters of the deal, said the board is making the trade too complicated.

Obviously somebody complicated the deal, however it wasn’t the county.

JG excerpt:
He noted that Fitzgerald and a county supervisor plan to meet with the Department of Transportation next week to discuss traffic issues with the new stadium.

Part 5: Aren’t they getting way ahead of themselves on this issue?

Why does Fitzgerald or the county bother about traffic concerns if it’s just a land swap deal? Secondly, both the county and the Watson/Mulder/Fitzgerald group already have a really good idea on the worth and potential of the Hwy14/51 property, why bother with further appraisals?

Part 6: Reported on Nov.15th, the land swap became even more complicated. One of the parcels, the 150 acre Deegan Farm, has been pulled from the offer to the county and replaced by the 45 acre Seneca Foods property. Changing once again the parameters of the deal.

The private parties represented by Watson, Mulder and Fitzgerald apparently not only want the stadium, mining and fairgrounds to be built on county land, but they want the county to do all the tremendous amount of footwork, planning and politicos that will be necessary to accomplish it. While Fitzgerald and company take all the credit for the idea and spit polish their newly acquired gem at Highways 14/51. The WMF party will, if the deal is accepted, have developmental control of over 700 acres in Rock County.

If I were the county, I would run as far away from these wheeler-dealers as possible.
Don't wait for the New Year, tell them now, "NO DEAL." It will be interesting indeed to see where all this is headed.


J.J. said...

This is a complicated deal. There are more questions than answers. There is also suspicion of the private investor's true motives. In addition to all that, there is an underlying distrust in Ken Hendricks.

Add to that the fact that the County Board's focus is the budget in November, and that there is only one scheduled meeting in December, I don't believe the land swap will get done by the December 29 deadline.

Lou Kaye said...

Absolutely. Making time of the essence on a deal like this outrageous. Oddly, Hendricks has been relatively quiet or least his name has not been mentioned in recent stories.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the land swap. I just hope that we can keep the snappers in Rock County. I don't think putting up a stadium in Janesville is a good idea. They should stay in Beloit. They have been there for 25 years. I'm sure Hendricks has plans for the land and I'm sure the county could get boat loads of money for the land. It is fishy that they had to put a timetable on this deal. It maybe because Hendricks has told an investor he will hear the outcome on a certain date.

Anonymous said...

This deal reeks to high heavens. If the county actually is going to consider this deal, the board better have some kind of contingency in the contract to provide for limitations of use should this stadium plan mysteriously fall apart. The county owned property is a potential goldmine for any developer. There seems to be more to this "deal" than we've been told.

Anonymous said...

Now we get Seneca involved?! I agree the board should just kill it. Who is this Board Supervisor that is in discussions? It wouldn't be Mr. Peer over stepping his bounds again would it? Somebody needs to put Peer on a leash, he's the chairman of the PS&J not King of the county.

Anonymous said...

Adam Peer is good for this county. He's not a union hack like the rest of the county board members are. He also doesn't tax and spend like most board members.

Anonymous said...

Peer wants the county to be run by him and him alone. King Peer still lives at home with mommy and daddy doesn't he? How can he begin to have the first clue when he's not even living on his own?

Anonymous said...

I guess 7:20 thought the land swap was a good idea. As far as the "doesn't tax and spend" comment goes... no he would just rather spend from the general fund and put the county in debt.

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