Diederich Plan for Patriot Hills-- Vote "NO" to Revisit and Renegotiate
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
As to the Town's sale of Patriot Hills/Letchworth and referendum vote, Town Supervisor Candidate Mike Diederich, Jr. says “we must vote NO.” The first issue is “trust.” Human nature is to trust people, often on oral promises alone. This is why most people marry without a prenuptial agreement. But trust alone is unwise concerning an asset worth perhaps $30 million or more (the golf course/Letchworth land). Trust and “hoping for the best,” is not sound governmental policy. The future of Stony Point must not depend upon the good intentions of a salesman (and many people are convinced that Raj has good intentions--likely because he is a VERY convincing and successful salesman). However, we cannot be so naïve as to place blind faith in any one person’s oral promises.
Mike Diederich is proposing a new “win-win” plan for Patriot Hills. We, the town taxpayers, can “have our cake and eat it to.” Under Mike’s plan, we can obtain Raj's investment and entrepreneurial skills AND protect the Town. If Raj’s proposal ends up being the best proposal, it will be selected, but with reasonable constraints (such as a 99 year lease) that protect the town.
Mike has no objection to privatization, nor with a multi-millionaire (Mr. Raja Amar) spending money in our town that helps our town’s economy. However, it appears that the Town Supervisor and Town Board acted in self-created desperation in its Patriot Hills decision-making. The result is the present very one-sided and ill-advised Contract of Sale that is the subject of the Election Day referendum (Proposition 7).
If Raj and his LLC had executed a viable Right of First Refusal (not the worthless RoFR the Town Supervisor signed this month), Mike’s concerns about potential undesirable future use would have been substantially addressed. Yet Raj has to date refused. Thus, only a “no” vote protects the townspeople against possible tax-exempt or high density housing in the future.
Importantly, voting “no” does not foreclose any reasonable proposals beneficial to the town and townspeople. A “no” vote simply allows us more time for thought regarding our options as to the proper use and development of two distinctly different parcels of land, the first being the Patriot Hills Golf Course (and its profitability), and the second being the adjoining Letchworth land (and its sound use, asbestos cleanup and development).
As to both parcels of land, the overarching concern must be potential future undesirable use (for example high-density housing and/or a tax-exempt religious college). Whether you are “for” or “against” the sale of Patriot Hills, everyone is in agreement that we must be protected against possible future undesirable use. That is why we need a “no” vote on Proposition 7. Then can we “revisit and renegotiate,” with Raj or anyone else, in the best interests of the Town.
If Raja Amar is sincere in his professed desire to help our town become a better and more economically vibrant place, he should not object to my “Diederich Plan for Patriot Hills.” My plan is as follow:
1. In January 2022 seek competitive proposals from the private sector for:
a. operating the Golf Course and Clubhouse/catering facility;
b. developing the Letchworth land in an acceptable manner (in whole or in separate parcels), or
c. both of the above.
2. Create a non-partisan Task Force, consisting of concerned citizens, Republican, Democrat and everyone else—to develop sound criteria and alternative courses of action for Town Board and taxpayer consideration regarding the golf course and Letchworth land, including the possibility of an entity—for example, Raj’s LLC—offering a “package deal” similar to Raj’s current proposal. Mike offers to chair such a task force.
3. After soliciting and receiving competitive proposals meeting desired criteria, if it turns out that Raj’s LLC offers the most suitable proposal (with the Town retaining title to the golf course land), the Town Board, led by Mike, will renegotiate a deal that is satisfactory to the LLC and the Town, protecting the townspeople’s interests and the Town’s future.
4. If the new deal warrants another referendum, to allow the townspeople a choice, then a special election will be scheduled to be held within 75 days.
5. The above is a fast, efficient and fair means of achieving the best result for the townspeople. We, the townspeople, own the land. We must protect the Town’s future.
As things stand today, because the townspeople lose all control with the sale, it is imperative that the townspeople must vote NO on Proposition 7.
If Raj is the good citizen he says he is, repeatedly saying that the town’s best interests are central to his proposal, he should have the confidence in his entrepreneurial skills to agree to the above approach. Raj is obviously skilled in making money. He should be confident that he will submit the most competitive proposals meeting Task Force-established criteria and receive Town Board approval.
Moreover, he should have no fear in renegotiating a deal with the Town giving him a 99 year lease or a reasonable RoFR. He should be able to obtain everything he says he wants, with the Town also being protected. By agreeing to a 99 year lease, Raj will address his critics’ fear that he, his LLC or a successor company might “flip” the Patriot Hills land for a big profit, by selling to a residential real estate developer for high density housing and perhaps a tax-exempt college.
At this point in time, a NO vote is the only vote that protects the Town's long-term interests. The Town Board can then revisit the issue of privatization, and renegotiate terms that are protective of the Town and its future.
Mike Diederich, Jr.