Another Bad Trade?????
At the February board meeting, our elected officials went into executive session to discuss what they deemed "the sale of property" but they were actually discussing a trade with Lamar County. According to Crider, they needed to make a decision because it was a done deal but according to an article in the Hatteisburg American "there still remains some details to work out." Based on the article, it was hard to tell who initiated this deal that will result in the City of Lumberton losing a building that would cost $1,000,000 to build today in exchange for a vacant building and 5 acres of land. It looks like another win win for Lamar County and another bad business deal for the City of Lumberton. If you're a sports fan, you're familiar with lop-sided trades. For instance, the time the Vikings gave Dallas a dynasty for Herschel Walker. How about the time when the Baltimore Colts traded John Elway to the Denver Broncos or when the Atlanta Falcons sent Brett Farve to Green Bay. History has shown that these were not good trades and Lumberton's latest pending trade is worse that those.
There's no doubt that Lamar County will be good stewards of the building but my concern is regarding those that are supposed to be looking out for the best interest of the city they were elected to represent. Who did their due diligence when the lop-sided deal was presented to the City of Lumberton? Or are they relying on the words of Kent Crider? When former Mayor, Ben Winston, attended meetings, he took one or two board members with him but Crider is reporting of meetings that no one else on the board knew about. Where's the witnesses? When he went to the Lamar County Library Board Meeting, he had his wife and the City Clerk with him. Were they present when he allegedly met with the Lamar County Board of Supervisors? According to the article in the Hattiesburg American the so called done deal is still in Phase 1 according to the Lamar County Administrator. During this process, Crider constantly barked that the City of Lumberton could not afford to pay the utility bills for the National Guard Armory but they're trying to trade a building that Crider deemed "Fort Knox" for a vacant building with a shingle roof and that's in need of maintenance. Where will the city officials get money to repair the Kids Campus building when they didn't have money to pay the utility bills for the National Guard Armory? Based on the details of the trade, it seems like the elected officials are acting as a broker for someone and they already know who's going to gain possession of Kid's Campus and the 5 acres of land. Unfortunately, the citizens of Lumberton are the ones being kept in the dark.
Let's compare the details of this deal Kent Crider is itching to get approved. The National Guard Armory is estimated to be worth $235,000 but if built today it would cost $1,000,000. I guess I will request a copy of the appraisal report since no one has went on record saying they saw the actual appraisal. They're voting on a trade based on information Kent Crider is spoon feeding them. Let's compare the National Guard Armory with Kid's Campus. The Armory has a concrete slab, 8" thick blocks with 4" thick bricks; concrete walls, high grade metal roofing, metal fence and most of the surrounding property is paved with concrete. The National Guard Armory is essentially a maintenance free building. Kid's Campus on the other hand is probably worth $50,000-60,000 with a shingle roof, vinyl siding, limited parking and surrounded by grass and in a residential area. In addition to getting a building that will require renovation to appeal to a buyer, the elected officials of Lumberton are also using the pending trade deal to obtain 5 acres of land for a boiler company that has no name to be placed in an Industrial Park that has no infrastructure. If you think that's a good deal, I heard the bridge connecting Slidell to New Orleans is for sale. Once again, those that were elected to represent the best interest of our city is selling us out again and we probably wont' know who they're truly representing until the deal is over. It's going to be interesting to see who actually takes ownership of Kid's Campus and the 5 acres because that's who the board is working for; they're not working for the citizens of Lumberton or the City of Lumberton but that's their M.O. (modus operandi).