Letters to the Editor: Harbor Bay Neighbors want new club

Letters to the Editor: Harbor Bay Neighbors want new club

Letters to the Editor
Harbor Bay

Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) continues its push to move the Harbor Bay Club. Its recent campaign at City Hall implies that Harbor Bay Neighbors opposes the building of a new Harbor Bay Club.

Harbor Bay Neighbors is on record for supporting a new club. The difference is that we insist the club is renovated or rebuilt at its current location — within the Community of Harbor Bay Isle so it will continue to serve the residents it was specifically designated to serve. Moving an amenity that residents and their kids can walk or bike to along safe lagoon paths to a parcel three miles away that requires a car to access just doesn’t make sense for our community.

HBIA says this is all about a new club. It’s NOT. It’s about Ron Cowan squeezing millions of dollars out of a waterfront property by selling it to a developer to build more homes, leaving us to deal with the consequences of more traffic, higher demand on public services, a smaller commercial tax base, and an inaccessible recreational facility.

HBIA says the current club is unsustainable. It’s NOT. Other clubs are thriving – how could a properly managed club at this location with fees at the current level not be a cash cow?

HBIA says that renovating the current club in stages is impossible. It’s NOT. This defies logic. How much infrastructure is there to two wooden buildings and 20 paved tennis courts? Professional architects know of ways to renovate in place that are both financially and operationally feasible. They do it all the time.

HBIA says they’ll go out of business if they can’t build a new club in the business park. They won’t. Cowan is not about to default on that $7 million loan and walk away from a profitable business.

Has HBIA proven ANY of what they’ve said? No, they have not. They just assume you’ll believe their jargon.

By contrast, throughout this controversy Harbor Bay Neighbors has responded with evidence that:

* Harbor Bay Club was built specifically to serve the residents of Harbor Bay Isle. City staff has confirmed that Harbor Bay Club was traded for 44 acres of open space, which Cowan then used to build additional homes. As residents of the Harbor Bay planned unit development, we are entitled to this recreational space.

* To this day HBIA’s affiliate, Harbor Bay Realty, touts the club as a valuable amenity to sell homes. We wholeheartedly agree! That’s why we are fighting so hard to keep the club where it is. Disrupting a completed planned unit developer is unfair and unjust to those who bought homes and built lives around the inherent protections of a PUD. Some may call HBIA’s tactic bait-and-switch; we call it fraud.

* Ron Cowan gave homebuyers investing in his properties a document saying that he could “sell or transfer ownership” of the club. Nowhere does it say that he can move it.

* Ron Cowan has the financial resources to renovate the club at its current location without fear of going out of business or closing operations during renovation. You can view the loan documents on our website if you doubt this.

What has HBIA offered as proof in response? The names of 7-year-old supporters! HBIA has started a petition to gather supporter names of everyone over 6 years old in an attempt to outnumber the 1,000 voting supporters of Harbor Bay Neighbors. Using children? That is just wrong.

It’s time to take the blinders off and see this scheme for what it is: A developer who is once again attempting to capitalize on restricted-use property and do harm to our community.

HBIA and the city negotiated a deal to provide Harbor Bay residents with designated recreational space on the existing club parcel. As a community, we must band together and hold them to this agreement.

Mark Theiding