Former Councilman Feller to Municipalities: Wake Up!

by SDM

Former Palmetto Bay Councilman, Dr. Ed Feller authors in the Palmetto Bay News (October 18-31) a compelling argument against the South Dade Green Corridor District. This special taxing district is advertised as offering a financing opportunity to install energy savings devices on commercial and residential properties.

Among the problems according to Dr. Feller’s analysis:

  • Legal issues related to the priority of the special taxing district’s lien against the commercial or residential property;
  • High interest rate and financing restrictions;
  • A troubling bid process that leaves Palmetto Bay virtually no option but to contract with a company called Ygrene Florida – a company with no assets or track record;
  • A lack of insurance on the energy savings expected to be realized; and
  • The lack of relevant qualifications for the district’s board of directors.

SDM did a little research on Ygrene, a limited liability company, and found that its “Manager” is Lykes Brothers, Inc., which is a large family-owned concern out of Tampa. Lykes and Ygrene share the same CEO: Howell L. Ferguson, a scion of the Lykes family. Lykes touts itself as an environmentally conscious company, but others consider it an environmental despoiler.

In a recent column in News-Press.com (covering Lee and Collier Counties), environmentalist Ellen Peterson excoriates the head of Florida Audubon for supporting Lykes Brothers’ “…conversion of Nicodemus Slough into a shallow holding tank for industrial-strength polluted water from Lake Okeechobee…” and “…placement of dams in Fisheating Creek, formerly the last unimpeded waterway in South Florida.”

SDM prides itself on not stooping to ad hominem arguments, so to be clear: SDM doesn’t know if Lykes Brothers is a “good” or “bad” company with regard to environmental issues. The problem is neither does Palmetto Bay or Cutler Bay.

Our good leaders also don’t know if Ygrene will be backed up by Lykes Brothers.  In fact, our leaders don’t seem to understand much about this deal, except that it sounds good and that it’s “green.”

Village leaders take note: the “green” Lykes usually likes is the green found on money, regardless of the true environmental cost. Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay would do well to heed Dr. Feller’s wake-up call.

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