Save Wickham Park

Be sure to check-in often. This site is a work in progress.                          We are still attending the Oct 8 meeting (see comments below).    Wickham Park is not listed on the Oct 8 Commission Agenda.

Tom's Corner

Be sure to learn from an avid naturalist.
 

1. Save Wickham Park Scrub

 

Be sure to check out this blog dedicated to saving Wickham Park.
 
You will find great photos and information concerning the park, news articles, how to contact the commissioners, and much, much more.
 

2. Wickham Park in Melbourne - Hiking etc

EFSC Withdrew from Buying Wickham Park Land

09/23/2013:  At 3pm we saw an article posted that EFSC withdrew from the sale.
 
 
 
It was you all. Today it worked... for now.
 
Our research has shown this or similar to have happened before and some failed, some did not. We have to make sure this is the last or make it so difficult and unappealing that who ever goes at it again will have to want it more than the people do and be willing to fight. Stay vigilant.
 
After all this story gets more and more complicated by the day. It is appearing that Eastern Florida State College was not alone and in fact the 77 acre deal was likely someone else's idea. Could it be the commissioner that said,
 I just wanted to make the statements that I have been working on this for a couple of years, and I have been sitting down with the City Mangers, both of them; the old and the new, and discuss this. …We’ve been negotiating for a long time. I am in favor of this. I think it’s the best use of that area; the college needs to expand. … They can go to the other Campuses, but I think they need to have a core location, and that’s the prime and the best location, I believed to use. So I am 100 percent for it.
--Mary Bolin Lewis, Sept 17
 
Curiously the City of Melbourne, City Manager McNees and Councilman Nowlin, deny this close partnership and advise they were unaware of the proposal and that it has not been discussed at any of the city meetings.
 
"The recent proposal to sell part Wickham Park was straightforward but more political.
Initially, the college pitched a simple swap. It would give Brevard County the college-owned pavilion and fairgrounds area at Wickham Park in exchange for 25 undeveloped acres next to its soccer fields south of Post Road.

No money would have changed hands.

Accounts differ slightly on what happened next. But one or more county leaders encouraged the college to instead buy 77 acres spanning the entire northern end of the park.

County Manager Howard Tipton proposed directing the income to the parks budget. Commissioner Robin Fisher wanted to earmark about $500,000 for a sports park for the disabled.

'I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if money wasn’t involved,' Fisher said at a hearing last week. 'If we’re going to give up a legacy, I want to create another one.'

But commissioners waffled as park advocates began to protest. Embarrassed college leaders pulled the proposal. The sale was not their idea to start with."

--Matt Reed, Florida Today (floridatoday.com), Gannett Co., Inc., September 26, 2013

What the article left out was that it was $3.85 million after 7 years interest free. Robin Fisher also talked about 1/5th to 1/3rd  which accounts for about $770,000 to $1.28 million after seven years to go toward the Field of Dreams charity.

"What, what I am more like thinking is that, you know, if you divided it by five ways, there’s a number that that would add into. If you divided it three ways, you know, North, South, and Central there’s a number that that comes to..."

--Robin Fisher, Sept 17

The former BCC trustee, Robin Fisher, as reported in the Waste Management debacle, is on the board of directors of Field of Dreams. The article also did not mention that Andy Anderson wanted "his portion" to go to Field of Dreams and Mary Bolin-Lewis also added,

"I hate to tie up money now not knowing the future when this does come to pass, but I will promise you though, if it comes to pass while I’m still sitting in this chair, that the Field of Dreams most certainly will be a high priority."

--Mary Bolin Lewis, Sept 17

So one scenario, if three commissioners "donate their share" or 1/5 each that amounts to $2.31 million dollars (after seven years). So of the $3.85 million, and after Robin Fisher's Field of Dreams gets through, that leaves the people 77 acres short and only $1.5 million to show for it or $220,000 a year.

We keep mentioning the seven years because that is crucial. Robin Fisher appears to have missed the fine print,

An initial payment at closing of one seventh of the purchase price shall be required and 6 additional payments of one seventh of the purchase price shall be made on December 1, 2014 and December 1 of the subsequent 5 years until the entire purchase price has been delivered.

(Proposal to the Board)

"I think the money’s in the bank. I, I believe BCC’s not going to sign a contract, and say they’re going to give us $3.8 million without doing it."

--Robin Fisher, Sept 17

For starters they are not "giving" us anything. It is a business transaction. The college would be "paying" the county and no, the money would not be "in the bank" or in completion for... yes again, for seven years. No more than a person paying a mortgage or car payment can say on the first day, "the money is in the bank." It is an interest free loan. The money would leave the  people's "bank" in the form of equity and the college would be putting it back, one small cash payment at a time. This is not found money as Fisher sees it.
 
"I’m supportive of this, but like we do, like when we had extra gas tax dollars or found money, we kind of decide how it is going to be distributed. ...this is newfound money..."
--Robin Fisher, Sept 17
They wanted to sell the land at appraised value. If you own a car valued at $2,000 and sell it for $2,000, how is this found money? Misplaced money? Or even leftover money? And what is the investment already made on the land being sold, how much did we pay to acquire it first and to have spent on it since? What of things without tangible value? The green space Chuck Nelson refers to. The rare species, the natural setting, the trail hikers, the horse riders, et. The scouts who explore the woods near their campgrounds, what of the value of knowledge gained from their experiences? And much more... There is doubt to the use of "market value" for surely if this land were open on the market the bids for it would be greater. What would someone like say Walmart pay for that land? Fisher needs to go over the books before thinking he has won a lotto of some sort. However, such thoughts bring attention to the fact that the park land is that much more vulnerable. Clearly someone sees dollars and the park makes for an easy victim in this apparent trend of insatiable greed.

More to follow later.

 

The Original Story

It was reported in the Florida Today newspaper on September 10 that the Brevard County Commissioners are planning to vote to authorize the sale of 77 acres of undeveloped or natural condition park land to Eastern Florida State College (formally Brevard Community College). This land contains established endangered wildlife (such as the Gopher Tortoise and Florida Scrub Jay) and highly utilized hiking and horse riding trails. The selling price is $3.85 million, however, despite reported college fee earnings in the millions, EFSC will only have to make annual interest free payments of $550,000 over 7 years.
 
“College leaders…envision three new buildings on the land”
“Some of the land could be used for even more expansion — such as student dorms — in the future.”
“College officials hope that state lawmakers approve $19.4 million this spring to build the health sciences building.”
“Eastern Florida will pay for the land using fees collected from students for capital improvements. The college currently collects about $2.9 million annually.”
    --Mackenzie Ryan and Dave Berman, Florida Today (floridatoday.com), Gannett Co., Inc., September 10, 2013
 

Eastern Florida State College Expansion Plans

 

Luckily this story was seen and immediately people took action. Good or bad, not enough can be said about the role of media and keeping the public informed. In this instance the article and its authors may not appreciate that they did so much more than inform. On September 17, three citizens were able to speak before the commission and along with numerous statements, emails and calls to the commissioners a minor victory was achieved in opposing the land sale. The commissioners voted 4 to 1 (Commissioner Mary Bolin Lewis in opposition) to postpone or table the vote till October 8 with a time certain of 10:00 am (see times below). Now what once was a silent and hasty attempt to "fly under the radar" is being made public and given some due diligence and review. What was once an article has become three follow-up articles (the last made the front page) and two published letters to the editor. Two TV news channels have picked up the story. Like the over ambitious college, this effort is also expanding.
  
 
Media Acknowledgements:
 
Mackenzie Ryan and Dave Berman, Florida Today
Greg Pallone, Central Florida News 13
Melonie Holt, WFTV Channel 9
 
New: WMMB (AM Radio) 1240 & 1350
 
There are several more to be thanked, especially some public servants, whose names cannot be listed to protect them and our efforts. Nonetheless you are appreciated.

Commission Meeting

If you were planning to attend the Oct 8, the date the commission set for the vote to sell Wickham land, please understand that it appears that the discussion and vote were cancelled by default. EFSC withdrew from the purchase plan and Wickham is not specifically listed on the Oct 8 Meeting Agenda. A few of us are still planning to attend just to hear what is said and see if there is a new twist to this tale. Perhaps something will surface during one of the allotted times commissioners or officials are allowed the floor or maybe during the 'unfinished business' section. Someone in the county worked at selling a portion of Wickham Park and since this almost went unnoticed once we are not leaving much to chance.
 
 
Original request (before reported EFSC withdraw):
09/18/2013: The momentum must pick up and actions must increase. We were given time, not a lot mind you, but got the proverbial "stay of execution." More public involvement is required. We must not only sign petitions but due to the time crunch and the obvious determination and announcements made by certain commissioners, the vote to sell a sizable chunk of Wickham Park will pass 3 to 2 (with Commissioners Trudie Infantini and Chuck Nelson in opposition). A show of force is the only answer, people and lots of them, filling the aisles and crowding the hallway. Please folks, show up and display your support. We know it is in the middle of the work day, it is clear that is done on purpose. Spread the word and try to get this out to those who can go. The meeting is on Oct 8 at 9am but the discussion and vote concerning the Wickham Land Sale is locked in at 10am. They recommend that speaking cards be filled out around 8:45. We recommend that you contact the Commission's Office at (321) 633-2000 or your Commissioner if you wish to speak at 10am but cannot be there at the 8:45 time. If you can spare the time and want to hear other items on the agenda we will see you at 9:00.
 
Bring your friends, bring your neighbors, bring your kids, and most importantly contact the commissioners, email all of them if you have to. You do not have to give a grand speech or presentation, simply vocalize what is on your mind, even if summed up in a few word ("This idea is stupid"). This can happen and the effort is ours, the citizens, to bear. Be sure to check back here for any changes concerning the meeting.
 
We need attendance!
 
Oct 8, 2013
 
Speaker Requests: 8:45
Meeting starts: 9:00
Vote on Wickham Park land sale: 10:00 AM
 
Brevard County Government Center, Building C
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Viera

Viera Government Center

 

Contact the Commissioners

 
 
Call and Email Commissioners Fisher, Anderson, and especially Lewis and tell them you disapprove of the sale!!
Call and Email Commissioners Nelson and Infantini to thank them for their efforts.

 

District 1 Commissioner Robin Fisher

States he will vote yes for the sale of Wickham Park land
Ph: (321) 264-6750
Fax: (321) 264-6751
District 1 Office Location:
400 South Street
Suite 1-A
Titusville, Florida 32780

District 2 Commissioner Chuck Nelson

States he will vote no for the sale of Wickham Park land
Ph: (321) 454-6601
Fax: (321) 454-6602

District 2 Office Location:

Merritt Island Service Complex
2575 North Courtenay Parkway
Suite 200
Merritt Island, Florida 32953

District 3 Commissioner Trudie Infantini
States she will vote no for the sale of Wickham Park land
Ph: (321) 952-6300
Fax: (321) 952-6340

District 3 Office Location:

1311 E. New Haven Avenue
Melbourne, Florida 32901

District 4 Commissioner Mary Bolin Lewis (Vice Chair)
 
States she will vote yes for the sale of Wickham Park land
Ph: (321) 633-2044
Fax: (321) 633-2121
District 4 Office Location:
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Building C Suite 214
Viera, Florida 32940

District 5 Commissioner Andy Anderson (Chairman)

States he will vote yes for the sale of Wickham Park land
Ph: (321) 253-6611
Fax: (321) 253-6620
District 5 Office Location:
1515 Sarno Road
Building B
Melbourne, Florida 32935
 
 

Sept 17 Meeting Video

 

Must see!!

 
View the video for yourself: http://brevardcountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx under Sept 17: video, at the 1 hour 11 min mark
or select "ITEM VII.E.1., RESOLUTION AND CONTRACT FOR SALE AND PURCHASE WITH EASTERN FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE (FORMERLY BREVARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE), RE: WICKHAM PARK LAND PROPOSAL" on the left menu

Links

Petition Page 

 

Documents

Printable "Save Wickham Park" Flyer:
 
Proposal, Sale Contract, and Deed:
 
 
Orlando Sentinel Interview with Joe Wickham (1986):
 
 
What started it all: