By Kate Johnson
As you may recall, there is a contract to purchase the Shaker Village clubhouse property, and the deciding votes for it were Vice-Mayor Bolton and Commissioners Kicia Daniel and Morey Wright. Many ask if this deal between the City of Tamarac and Shaker Village can be stopped.
There is a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is yes, but the long answers include much more detail and legal maneuvering.
First, let’s summarize what this is about and what has occurred since the article on this debacle regarding Shady Shaker Village Shakedown and the City of Tamarac. Let’s quote the Sun-Sentinel’s editorial piece on July 29 for brevity.
“For six years, an eyesore has slowly deteriorated on Commercial Boulevard in Tamarac.
All that’s left of the clubhouse at Shaker Village, a townhouse and condo complex, are bare walls and a concrete slab. The decades-old roof collapsed in a windstorm in 2017, and an inept homeowners’ association board did nothing, even after an insurance payout. It’s a symbol of stagnation.
But now, Tamarac taxpayers are forced to come to Shaker Village’s rescue with a politically motivated, taxpayer-funded bailout, overshadowed by nagging ethical questions.
City commissioners voted 3-2 on July 12 to buy the decrepit site for $1.9 million and build a new clubhouse for upwards of $6 million. The city would own and maintain it, and all residents could use it — but why would they? Plans call for only 25 parking spaces, and besides, the city of 72,000, built as a retirement haven, has clubhouses everywhere.
All that’s left of the clubhouse at Shaker Village, a townhouse and condo complex, are bare walls and a concrete slab. The decades-old roof collapsed in a windstorm in 2017, and an inept homeowners’ association board did nothing, even after an insurance payout.”
Are we tired of seeing that eyesore along Commercial Blvd?
Of course, we are. However, Shaker Village’s responsible for repairing or tearing it down. They have not. Instead, the citizens of Tamarac are being asked to pay for the inept and negligent Condominium Association Board’s decisions.
The COA was paid $400,000 to rebuild the clubhouse but failed to do so. One question is why Shaker Village residents did not file suit against their own Board for mismanagement of funds and the lack of amenities they pay for each month. Why didn’t they fix their clubhouse? Why did they let it get in such ill repair that a windstorm took it out?
After many attempts by Tamarac officials to assist them in plans to repair, the city has now decided to make a deal. Or should I say Bolton has chosen the city should make a deal.
This contract arranges for the city to purchase the Shaker Village Community’s dilapidated clubhouse and small property it sits on for $1.94 million, almost three-quarters of a million over market value. To be clear, there was a valuation of $1.94 million, but that was for three tracks of land. The city is buying only one tract for the same amount. Therefore, the city is not getting the best deal.
Guess who is?
In addition, the appraisals for the land state that the highest and best use for the property is building townhouses like the Shaker Village community. The city would then resell them so that it would recoup its expenses. That would be a benefit to the city. But the plan is not to use it for its highest and best use. Is that in the city’s best interest? Do we want more townhouses built on Commercial Blvd? Would Shaker Village still sell the land to the city if they were not getting a clubhouse out of the deal? I would guess all the answers are no.
In 2022, the discussions between then-City Attorney John Herin and the Shaker Village Attorney were to investigate if the city could assume the property under eminent domain. Shaker Village homeowners owe the city $12 million in fines. In that case, eminent domain sounds reasonable. Paying almost $2 million for it does not.
Additionally, the contract drawn up by City Attorney Hans Ottinot and negotiated by Bolton, who lives in Shaker Village and financially benefits from the deal, also calls for a signed Shared Use Agreement between Tamarac and Shaker Village.
What will the shared use agreement contain? No one knows, or at least they are not saying. Shaker Village’s COA Board didn’t know (or, again, is not saying) and said as much after the Commission meeting on July 12. However, they admitted they discussed it with Bolton to understand why a Shared Use Agreement was needed. Of course, we can figure out a Shared Use Agreement. It means they get to use the property and special compensation/privileges to do so
Wait, isn’t that a conflict in the city’s best interest for Bolton to negotiate and vote on this?
Of course, it is, and it shows.
Although the Shared Use Agreement has not been drawn up and no specifics given, the Shared Use Agreement clearly benefits Shaker Village. In fact, one Board Director said selling it to the city only helped them if the community center was built, and that is the plan.
We, the taxpayers of Tamarac, would be paying to rebuild the Shaker Village Clubhouse and call it a community center. It would conceivably be open to the public, although it is questionable what use there would be to the public.
The City proposal shared at meetings was for an approximately 5,000-square-foot community center with two stories to replace the one-story Shaker Village clubhouse. It would hold about 75-100 people at most. So, we are not only giving them a Clubhouse, but a bigger, better one.
How does this benefit Tamarac residents as a whole? It doesn’t, but it sure does cost each taxpayer, not only in the initial outlay of money, rebuilding, cleared fines, and liens no longer collected, but in general upkeep. The estimated ongoing cost to maintain and program this new facility would be about $100,000 annually. If it isn’t programmed, the cost would be around $20,000 per year, but if it is not programmed, what is the purpose of building a community center?
However, It could greatly benefit the Shaker Village community because they could use it for their functions and have no need to worry about parking.
They could use it for Board meetings, game nights, dances, and more at Tamarac residents’ expense. We would be footing the bill for building, upkeep, maintenance, and staff. They would not have to pay for insurance, FLP, water, landscaping, or other maintenance on the building as it became necessary.
Their monthly assessments should drop significantly (and that includes Bolton’s portion). In addition, as a private community, they have needed drainage repairs, and this sale would negate their being assessed for these repairs. Again, Bolton personally benefits. As an aside, these drainage issues have existed since before 2015. Why has nothing been done? And why is the city now paying for them with the sale?
Let’s break it down even further.
Shaker Village represents 356 (or 358, depending on whose numbers you look at) households. Let’s be generous and say we assign three adults per household to 358 units (and we know that is not the case as some households have one adult in them, but let’s go with 3 per household to cover our bases). That’s 1,074 adults in Shaker Village.
According to Tamarac’s latest numbers, the population of Tamarac is 71,912. Divide that out. Let’s be generous again and say that Shaker Village represents .5% of Tamarac residents. 99.5% of all Tamarac residents are being asked to pay for the .5% of Shaker Village residents to have a new place to meet.
I’m no math whiz, but does that sound even remotely fair and equitable? Absolutely not!
This brings us to the question: can this deal be stopped?
There are a couple of things that may play out. One is that the Office of the Inspector General is investigating. We can only hope this investigation results in this deal being stopped and the vote found illegal since there is an apparent conflict of interest at play, and Bolton should never have voted. If he had not voted, the vote would have been 2-2, and the vote to proceed would have failed.
The other way is for the City or Shaker Village not to agree on the Shared Use Agreement.
During the due diligence period of 60 days, either side can decide this deal, which states it must include a Shared Use Agreement, cannot stand as is since no agreement is reached. Again, it is a long shot, but it is doable. The difficult part of this possible result is that the three Commissioners who voted yes, including the City Manager and City Attorney, can work out this deal without returning to the Commission. Bad move, bad policy. And we know who the City Attorney really works for.
Commissioners who voted yes on this deal, Bolton, Daniel, and Wright, could have asked for a reconsideration of the vote (only those who voted yes can ask for this). Still, it does not seem they want to listen to the public. The voters are being ignored. Many people emailed and sent letters. Some received responses. I wonder if these Commissioners want to be re-elected, or are they content with one and done? It sure seems like the latter.
In the end, residents of Tamarac were not given a voice in this decision. And the majority of those who have spoken since it was decided have said no and asked the deal to be pulled or put on hold until more information is researched. Yet, attention is not being given to their voices by those who could have done something.
By the way, don’t buy into the notion that this helps the east side of Tamarac. It does not. The city would have very few functions that they could even hold there due to the limited size and parking. Increasing taxes on all residents to cover this cost would hurt everyone.
It is all made to sound very advantageous to District 1, but the only real advantage is to Shaker Village and Bolton.
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