Stuart Commissioner Mike Meier speaks out about Pelican Cafe lease
Please take a moment to read Stuart Commissioner Mike Meier thoughts on the Pelican Cafe Lease:
The controversy surrounding the potential extended lease with the Pelican Cafe is gaining steam and unfortunately causing some relationships to fray. I have received perhaps as many emails in the past few days from city and county residents, as well as out-of-town vacationers, on this issue as I did regarding Sailfish Park. Let me say once and for all that I enjoy the Pelican Cafe; I have been and will continue to be a customer, and I am fully aware that the Pelican is beloved by many folks. I am in favor of a long term lease for the Pelican, but I need it to be one that is fair to the citizens, whose property is what we’re talking about here.
The main issue for me here is transparency. I was elected on a platform bringing more public participation, more sunlight, into city hall; I will continue to fight the back-room dealing good-old-boy network that compromises the public interest. I want city issues, especially those concerning public property, to be deliberated out in the open, in full view of and with full consideration by the public.
If the will of the people (via the results of the referendum vote) is being invoked in support of a long term lease, then by all means we should protect the will of the people! I do not believe that the proposed lease does that. If the long-term lease is signed and the business sold right away, the citizens have no ability to control what happens there.
To be fair, there is little that can be done to the buildings without major commission approval (except for the covered pavilion planned for the beach area), so please disregard conspiracy theories of a hotel being built in place of the Pelican anytime soon. What can change if the business is sold is the stuff the voters seem to hold dear: the menu, the prices, the staff, the vibe. But what won’t change in the event of a sale is the rent paid to the taxpayers. For me, that’s the rub.
I will be asking for a lease that gives the citizens (through the commission) the ability to negotiate a fair-market rent in the event of a sale of the Pelican Cafe after an extended lease is signed. If the citizens want to offer a below-market lease to the Pelican Cafe because it is a beloved local small business, I am onboard with that, but what happens if that local small business is bought by a corporate chain? I truly believe Mr. and Mrs. Daly have no malicious intent to pull one over on the voters here, but without any controls in the lease, the citizens of Stuart are stuck footing the opportunity cost on a low-rent lease to a new business they might not like very much. I’m confident the Daly’s intentions are pure, but, as we all know, stuff happens. It’s my duty to protect the taxpayer in the event of that stuff happening.
I have also floated the idea of an RFP during the remainder of the current lease, so that the citizens have the benefit of seeing what other options might be on the table. Since the Pelican Cafe is a known quantity, don’t I owe it to the citizens to at least ask to see what else is out there so they can make a fair choice? Of course, if after reviewing all options, the citizens still favor the Pelican, by all means I will support that. I believe the citizens deserve to see all options on the table, and I trust them to make the right choice; that is good government, not to mention good housekeeping.
Ask yourself: if you were to refinance your mortgage, wouldn’t you at least look at what other lenders are offering before sticking with the same?
reposted with permission