Mr. Robert M. Jones
3286 Poor House Road
Rice, VA 23966
Dear Mr. Jones,
I am a resident of the 201 Lockett District of Prince Edward County and am writing to express my opinion regarding the Granite Falls CDA bonds and the entire project. In reading the article in the Farmville Herald and attending several meetings, I am astonished that the County continues to go ahead with this project.
First and foremost the Poplar Hill CDA and the associated golf course and conference center (“Poplar Hill”/”Manor”) is a dismal failure. I understand the Poplar Hill/Manor project was also a project of Mr. Robert Fowler. This was a project that was touted as a boon to Prince Edward County and it went nowhere other than into bankruptcy and foreclosures. It seems that the county has not learned from its mistakes. The Board of Supervisors is now touting the Granite Falls Project as a boon to Prince Edward County. This project is adjacent to the formal Poplar Hill (Manor) project and if one project did not succeed how can you honestly expect this one to. I can only foresee dismal failure once again. A number of the conference centers in the area are closing, the latest one being in Richmond, VA, which should have had no problem attracting business. Yet where Richmond could not attract business do you really think Prince Edward will be able to. I for one do not.
The citizens of Prince Edward County were told that the proposed bonds to be issued by the Granite Falls CDA would not be an obligation of the county. Yet I read in the Farmville Herald that the Board of Supervisors has now approved a resolution that they (Prince Edward County) have a “moral obligation” to fund the reserve fund should the project not make sufficient revenue to pay back the bondholders in any given year. Let’s use some common sense – if the project does not generate enough revenue in one year to pay back the bondholders what makes you think they will have sufficient funds the following year to pay not only the bondholders but the county. I am a former securities attorney, and if the CDA with the county’s approval will be selling these bonds as having “the county’s moral commitment to make good”, you can be assured that the responsibility for repayment will ultimately end up with the taxpayers of Prince Edward County. This in turn will result in ‘higher property taxes’. I’ve attended other County meetings and have heard comments made from Mr. Wade Bartlett that “Prince Edward has one of the lowest tax rates in the Commonwealth and therefore can raise property taxes”. I can tell you I for one do
not want my taxes raised, and especially don’t want them raised to pay for a bond on a project that is doomed to fail from the start. Nor do I want Supervisors who are not looking out for the best interests of their constituents.
As a taxpayer, I believe I have a right to know who is funding the project on behalf of the developer and to know the risks that the prospective bond purchasers will be told. After all, this information goes to the very essence of the project and as to whether or not it will succeed or fail. The fact that you voted against disclosing this information to your constituents leaves me dumbfounded. If this project is worthwhile and you truly believe it will succeed, then you should have no issues with providing the taxpayers of Prince Edward County with detailed information concerning it. It is my understanding that the developer has had difficulty finding private financing (banks, private investors, etc) to do the project. Banks, private investors, etc. will invest in projects that they believe will be successful as they are in the business of making a profit. This is true even in today’s economy. If private financing (banks, private investors, etc.) is unwilling to invest its money in this project, why would the Board of Supervisors of Prince Edward County think it was a good investment?
I strongly urge that all your future votes concerning this project be towards stopping it rather than proceeding.
Very truly yours,
Michele Nieroda Schumacher, Esq.
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