Saturday, June 02, 2007

More Thoughts on the Birding/Nature Center

When I first started thinking about and discussing this issue with other people, I stated that I personally would like to see less building and more preserved habitat in this project. With island property being bulldozed, paved and high-rised at a truly alarming rate, it seems very clear to me that preserving what is left of our native flora and fauna is of far great urgency than building a magnificent edifice that would function primarily as a memorial to what used to be here.

When I wrote that, I had no idea that the property between Sea Turtle Inc. and the Birding center land was owned by none other than Clayton Brashear. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Clayton and I see eye-to-eye on very little and that I am no fan of his “build highrises and they will come” approach to island development. A lot of the e-mail flying around the past few days has made much of the assumption that Clayton is opposed to the existing B-center plan because he wants to sell his land to the town for a huge profit.

I don’t know enough about the real estate market to judge whether or not the offers he has made to the town are anywhere close to ballpark, but all I have to do is look at my tax appraisals to know that island property value is rising rapidly -- and no one I know is predicting the trend to reverse itself anytime soon. So doesn’t it make sense to at least talk to the man about acquiring that land? If he doesn’t sell it to the town, he will most assuredly either develop it himself or sell it to someone who will and wouldn’t it be infinitely better to have a very large block of protected acreage/wetlands stretching from Sea Turtle Inc. to the Birding/Nature Center with no highrise in the middle?!?

One of the ideas he has floated involves a trade - the city owns property next to the Travelodge that has been sitting unused forever and as far as I know it has no concrete plans for its use. Have the town leaders even given this idea serious consideration -- or are they rejecting it out of hand, just because it is Clayton they are dealing with? If so, I would file that in the “cutting off your nose to spite your face” category.

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