Chris Coons, Tweed Park project, Coons Project, Delaware News, Delaware Senate race
Chris Coons is COZY With Rich Land Developers. He LOVES State Sponsored Capitalism
Bill Collier- The Freedomist
The Coons Project, something we are naming the bilk-the-poor and give to the rich boondoggle known as Tweed Park, is a classic example of a Political Ruling Class Elite finding a way to take care its own (in this case Duffield Associates and the upscale Hockesin Athletic Club) at the expense of the working class members of the county, where Chris Coons was supposed to be protecting the People from such robber baron ways!
In essence we see a group of people finding a way to fund a multimillion dollar project, under the guise of environmentalism, that benefited a small group of pampered members of an athletic club, funded by foreclosing and putting liens on the properties of working class families.
Was this park one of the reasons why New castle County raised Property Taxes by 58% in 3 years?
Here are the details, with links to the public records that back our story up:
Chris Coons says he is for ethics and transparency, he loves the environment, and he is for the “little guy”, but, as you will see in this report on the inner workings of life in New Castle County Delaware, between rich land developers and this “man of the people”, things aren’t as they seem.
NOTE- Chris Coons did not break any laws or “ethics”, but he sure shows himself, in this one deal, to be a friend of rich land developers and a taxer of the People! HOW MANY OTHER deals like this happened in New Castle County Delaware?
In 2004 it was announced with great fanfare that Duffield and Associates had been awarded a $5 Million contract to build a public park, centering on an old, historical Tavern, in New castle County, Delaware.
Construction took two years, but even before it was completed a NEW and surprising development occurred:
Tweeds Park became an ideal place for a NEW fitness club building, for an old fitness club, that Duffield and Assoc. built IN THE PARK, which, conveniently, they were contracted to create for $5 million!
The PUBLICLY FINANCED park is now used by fitness club members…
Duffield Associates secured $150,000 of taxpayer dollars to handle environmental issues, despite the fact that in previous meetings, notes here http://www.deldot.gov/archaeology/tweeds_tavern/pdf/park_enclosure3.pdf , the EPA had signed off on the overall plan of development with respect to environmental issues- so Duffield was able to get new zoning, take a 12 acre parcel of land from a public park, and get paid twice to do the environmental work they were originally tasked with doing for the site in the first place!
Here is how they put it:
“Duffield was able to obtain $150,000 in grants and matching funds from DNREC and DEDO for use in remediating environmental issues.”
CONVENIENTLY FOR ALL CONCERNED, both Chris Coons, the New Castle County Executive, AND a member of Duffield Associates sit on a Task Force WITHIN the DNREC, from which they were able to “obtain” money:
SO HOW DID Duffield get such FAVOR, including getting public land for a private purpose, getting rezoning, and getting more public money for their client?
Chris Coons and Jeff Bross, a representative from Duffield Associates were on an official committee, of which two members were from a private company- Duffield and Associates and Blenheim Homes.
Task Force Members Present:
John Hughes (chair) Secretary, DNREC
Senator David McBride Chair, Senate Natural Resources Committee
Representative Roger Roy Co-chair, Bond Bill Committee
Representative Joseph Booth Chair, House Natural Resources Committee
Ralph Reeb Director of Planning, DelDOT
Robert Stickels County Administrator, Sussex County
Chris Coons County Executive, New Castle County
Charles Baker General Manager of Land Use, New Castle County
Larry Irelan New Castle Conservation District
Jared Adkins Kent Conservation District
Paul Morrill Town Manager, Delaware City
Scott Koenig Director of Public Works, Dover
Stephanie Hansen Richards Layton and Finger
John Talley State Geologist, Delaware Geologic Survey
Paul Petrichenko Natural Resources Conservation Service (Dover)
Eileen Butler Delaware Nature Society
Jeff Bross Duffield Associates
Senator Robert Venables Co-chair, Bond Bill Committee
David Burris (for Robert McLeod) President, Kent County Levy Court
Jeff Seemans Blenheim Homes
Gary Stabley President, Lewes Board of Public Works
Kash Srinivasan Commissioner of Public Works, Wilmington
Rick Woodin Homebuilders Association of Delaware
NO DOUBT this was a convenient way to get the needed approval, rezoning and money when your company has a seat at the table of a group that MAKES OFFICIAL POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS!
Did Chris Coons, the County Executive for the affected county, who so loathes the rich that he is one of them, OBJECT to all this COZINESS?
INSTEAD OF OBJECTING to the coziness of a private company sitting on a policy-recommending board, here’s Chris’ input from a meeting… Chris Coons was for adding more costs to taxpayers and placing liens on their homes if need to pay for environmental measures:
“Representative Booth asked where the $5 million figure for tax ditches in Sussex County was derived. Mr. Irelan said that it is the current Sussex Conservation District request for funding. Mr. Piorko clarified that tax ditch organizations in Sussex County raise about $500,000 annually from their members for routine maintenance but the $5 million figure reflects the difference between what is being done and what the needs really are. Mr. Bross and Mr. Irelan stated that the needs are increasing due to higher demands and environmental regulations…..
NOTE- Mr. Bross is from Duffield talking about how, basically, the residents need to pay more for all the environmental work that needs done, which their company gets paid to do.
Mr. Morrill asked of (sic) utility fees could be collected on county tax bills and was told yes. He further asked about non-payments and the potential need to place liens. Mr. Hughes stated that that process would be determined at the State level.
IN RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE DISCUSSION about “tax ditches” and finding ways to bilk homeowners by adding the new costs to their tax bills, coupled with using eminent domain more aggressively and liens on property, Coons did not object-
“Mr. Coons said he was generally comfortable with the process being discussed. It is equitable and sustainable. Mr. Petit de Mange said Kent County was discussing establishing a maintenance district with the Kent Conservation District but those discussions are on hold pending completion of the Task Force.”
Coons was “comfortable” with Duffield’s guy, and others, talking about how to get more money from residents to buy the services of companies like Duffield, but he didn’t seem to have a problem with the whole idea of a private company sitting on a board talking about milking tax payers to pay for their services…
Duffield Associates was retained to assist the Delaware Department of Transportation in planning, designing, and constructing a recreation park that includes the addition of multi-purpose athletic fields and the relocation and restoration of the historic two-story 1796 Tweed’s Tavern. Duffield Associates devised “Green Technologies” for control of stormwater runoff from the park and upland drainage basin, such as reforestation, wetlands creation, bio-retention and bio-swales. This design build park project consists of an historic village, a regional stormwater management facility, three multi-purpose athletic fields, a Tot-lot, parking and access improvements for an adjoining health and fitness complex also designed by Duffield Associates.
WITH THIS IN MIND, why was Duffield asking for and getting $150,000 MORE from public funds for more such work when a PRIVATE business wanted to take a 12 acre parcel from the Park for a “fitness center.”
The DOT for Delaware Press release is here:
Press Release — October 28, 2004
Tweed’s Park Groundbreaking
Centuries Old Log Cabin Structure to Anchor Recreational Site
Hockessin — The Department of Transportation held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, October 27, for the dedication of Tweed’s Park on Valley Road in Hockessin. Also in attendance at the ceremony, held at the site where the historic Tweed’s Tavern will be relocated, were members of the Hockessin Historical Society, local dignitaries, and elected officials.
NOTE- Was Chris Coons was there???
At a projected cost of approximately $5 million the park will feature recreational facilities to include hiking trails, soccer fields and other athletic fields. Historical and educational exhibits centered on the restored Tweed’s Tavern will also be significant attractions. Additionally, the project will allow for environmental clean up of illegal dumping sites and the alleviation and control of area flooding issues.
NOTE- Duffield was ALREADY getting money for environmental remediation for the site BEFORE the fitness center was built.
AT ITS COMPLETION:
Press Release — November 4, 2006
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Dedicating the Tweed’s Park
Hockessi — The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony celebrating the opening of Tweed’s Park was held this afternoon when the Department of Transportation (DelDOT) transferred maintenance and operations of this multi-use, recreational facility, and the historic Tweed’s Tavern to the Hockessin Historical Society and the Hockessin Soccer Club. DelDOT also recognized it’s public-private partnership with the Hockessin Athletic Club, located within the park.
NOTE- the “club” is IN THE PARK and pretty much its members are now the primary users….
No, we must agree, Chris Coons is not a “Bearded Marxist”, he’s just pals with good old fashioned real estate tycoons who, at first blush, look a lot like “robber barons.”
Chris Coons- the clean shaven robber baron’s best friend?