LOCAL VOICES: Sandusky needs development -- responsible development

By MARK NORMAN Sandusky community activist Builder of &
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

By MARK NORMAN

Sandusky community activist

Builder of "House on Third Street" green-energy home

For two straight days, the Sandusky Register used its powerful format to feature Matt Westerhold’s column, a headline about the ECEDC, the editorial staff’s 2 cents column and now Marie Hildebrandt’s guest column to pile on its support for the Marina District and to blast the CRG’s successful effort to take the Marina District back to the citizens for a vote.

Lawlessness indeed! Marie Hildebrandt should read the Sandusky city charter, especially the part that spells out how citizens can legally overturn a commission decision. Yes, I said legally. The city charter has safeguards that create a balance of power. The CRG and the more than 1,400 citizens, twice the number required, who signed the petitions have legally exercised their rights. People who have the gumption to actively participate in the political process should be honored, not chastised.

I don’t recall seeing Hildebrandt or any of the ECEDC’s board attending commission meetings. How many live in Sandusky, let alone know in any detail the history of the project, know the current details of how the project will be financed, the developer’s credentials, who his partners are or the final cost to taxpayers? I mean details — not the one-sided, rah-rah, oversold spin cooked up behind the scenes over the past year and then so willingly gulped down and regurgitated when called upon.

I am not sure sitting on the comfortable sidelines gives Marie and the others the right to speak. If they earnestly would like to exercise their civic responsibilities to become better informed citizens, there is a group of citizens that meets every other Saturday morning to study the city’s charter — and there is room at City Commission meetings.

Better yet, get out and talk to the average guy. You will find, as the CRG did, that town folks are angry, they don’t want any more condos in Sandusky, they want commissioners to successfully complete something without it ending up in court and they don’t want the wealthy to take over Battery Park and deciding what is best for the taxpayers who will actually be affected by the Marina District.

But hey — what does it matter what the average guy wants? Elitists and Good Old Boys can take out their checkbooks , hire attorneys to find loopholes, buy ads and radio time to spin their story and use their position on boards of directors to put out press releases that capture headlines. They can even circumvent the political process. All is fair when you have money, power and arrogance.

I wonder how they would feel about waterfront development if Sandusky citizens proposed rezoning the Chaussee for high-rise condos and hotel development? Now that is an idea!

Of course Sandusky needs development, but responsible development. Development based on expertise, studied options, a long-term vision and forethought. People would never think of building on the city’s Washington Street gardens, but they would build on an even more valuable waterfront, probably the most valuable piece of property in the city. What is Sandusky without a waterfront? No matter how you spin it, condos do not enhance the waterfront or public land. You can sell it once, but then what will you have left?

There are options and there are better locations for this project.

Regularly we read about how well the commission and city has managed development projects by the seat of their pants. Their record is not good.

Folks, there is no business plan for this project. There is no end plan for a new city building.

Wake up. The emperor has no clothes.