Sunday, November 25, 2007

OmniSource Gauntlet

Tracy Warner's column about Mayor Richard "sprinting to the finish" gives a little more insight into the mayor's plans regarding the OmniSource site.
The city's $25,000 for an option to buy the land for $4.3 million expires with Richard's term, and the mayor clearly would like to do more than renew the option.

“I think the public will be well served by the city owning it,” he said. Richard's administration came under fire during the recent city elections for refusing to release environmental studies of the property, but the mayor noted that the studies are not yet complete and said they belong to the property's owners, not the city.

I know that Mayor Richard has never had an extremely open administration but if he thinks he can buy that property without releasing the environmental data then he is vastly uninformed and he should be ready to go to court to defend his position. Any document used in the negotiation of that option is a public document and must be available for inspection. Right now he's using a loophole by saying the negotiations are still in progress to get around having to release the study.

But saying the studies aren't complete? Why the hell would the city go through the trouble of putting together a task force and public meetings that met for months on end before the environmental data was in? Of course the answer is the public meetings were a farce - window dressing to give the appearance of community input. Why would the environment study be the last thing done when it clearly should've been one of the first? I'm not sure but it could be a stall tactic while they try and lay the groundwork of excuses and misinformation before buying potentially polluted property.

We've already heard the administration discuss the idea of using state and federal dollars to clean up the property. But let me go on record - any plan to use taxpayer dollars to clean up the land polluted by one of the richest families in Allen County is economically unjust and downright un-American. Any such plan should be a non-starter with city council and the residents of this community. Of course this is exactly the type of elitist proposal I expect to see from the Richard administration...


J Q Taxpayer said...

Stange? Nah....

Go back two years ago and Don Willis proposed a plan much like what came out of the North River Project planning did.

Go back a little over three years ago a Michigan company was paid by the city to ofter input on the proposed use of this property. It to contained much of the same concepts that the North River Project planning did.

The Mayor said he can not release the information because, in part Rifkin family (former owners of OmniSource until sold to SDI) is paying for this impact study. They have an agreement for the city not to release details until the deal is done.

Here is a family that in part saw the demise of the very neighborhood that now the city wants to help enhance.

The EPA has enough money grant requests for 20 plus years. So where do you think that puts Fort Wayne with regards to this project.

I hope the EPA turns it flat down and tells Fort Wayne. You knew the site was bad, and you bought it, so you clean it up.

Maybe everyone should start writing the major companies holding SDI stock just how great the new board member of SDI is. Maybe they will have a warm and fuzzy feeling about a board member who screwed over his own home town in a land deal.

J Q Taxpayer said...

Let us tie some names to the game.

Andrew Thomas - Henry Team - North River Project

Ben Eisburt - Henry Team - North River Project - Omni Source

Irene Walters - Henry Team - Tower Bank Director - SDI Director

Danny Rifkin - Omni Source Property Owner - SDI Director

Leonnard Rifin - Omni Source - Founder of Tower Bank - Founder of SDI

Keith Bussee - Founder SDI - Tower Bank Director

Joseph Ruffolo - Former Kitty Hawk Director - SDI Director - Tower Bank Director

Don Schankel - SDI Director - Tower Bank Director

Jerrome Henry Jr - Tower Bank Director - Other bussiness interests in Fort Wayne

Because of records being private one has to wonder how much banking business Rifkin, OmniSource, SDI, Sweetwater Sound, and Do It Best does with Tower Bank?

How much banking is being run through Tower Bank with regards to Harrion Square?

Andrew Kaduk said...

I don't think it's legal under Superfund/CWA guidelines for anyone to sell a property that is contaminated beyond EPA tolerances, and if it IS sold under the pretense of "OK," the buyer does indeed have recourse to later litigate for cleanup costs. The only exceptions that I know of so far are instances where derelict properties are sold through bankruptcy proceedings, and those are usually pre-approved for Superfund cleanup dollars.

Any owners of adjacent properties may also sue for cleanup costs once a suspect property is found to be contaminated. Leonard & Company had better play their cards exactly right or it could cost them Millions (capital M).

Phil Marx said...

Whoever owns the property when the pollutants are initially discovered is the party responsible for cleaning it up. I suspect that the transfer is possible, so long as the buyer is made fully aware of any problems known to exist at the time of sale. The people of Fort Wayne are the potential buyers in this case.

We (the people)don't know if this property is polluted. We don't even know if such a study has been done yet. Mayor Richard may know this information, but he has decided that we (the people who will be paying for it) don't need to know this information until after the property has been purchased.

This is not a problem with Omnisource or with the EPA rules. This is a problem with Graham Richard and it is a problem with the way Indiana law allows municipalities to conduct business.

J Q Taxpayer said...

The property was owned by Superior Iron & Metal. It was the first name the Rifkin family gave it. Prior to that it was part of the railraod switching area.

Superior changed their name to better reflect their business interest (so they say) to OmniSource. It was still held by the Rifkin family.

It appears by the sale of OmniSource to SDI that most property was held by a company within the Rifkin family or OmniSource corp name. It appears at least the North Calhoun St is held in someone's/some company controlled by the Rifkin family.

All it would take is for the Rifkin family or company to sale the property. Disolve the company with no assets remaming. Then walk a way.

My reading is a "bad" piece of property can be sold to the next person. If the new owner is aware of the condition of the property they DO NOT have a claim back against the saler. However, if the saler fails to provide a "clean bill" then they can be held to clean it up. Provided the past owner has any money to make a claim against.

The question that could come to the front can the people on this appointed board elected to purchase a "bad" piece of property can they be held liable to willingly and knowingly entering into a contract that all common sense tells one not to. The law does not protect these people from knowingly doing something that common sense tells them not to.

Tom Henry should either in private or in public let Richard know not to dump this property on him.

Keep in mind people. The asking prive is near top dollar for a "clean" piece of property.

I think it is time our state leaders close the loopholes where the development group can enter into binding land purchases.