My email to the Cumberland County Director of Economic Development:
Thanks for speaking with me yesterday and being so generous with your time. Your comments and suggestions are valuable.
I came into these projects at Money Island facing massive obstacles: 10+ years of money-losing businesses, three prior bankruptcies with still unresolved legal issues, dramatically declining real estate values, a property tax lien that the township was unable to sell, a mortgage from a prior owner that is still not removed from the deed, oil spill cleanup liability, groundwater contamination issues, unpaid tidelands lease fees, lack of all types of permits, lost Certificates of Occupancy, incomplete septic permits, missing surveys and historical documentation. A short time after I took over management we were hit with Sandy. Then, on top of all that, I’m still battling the ongoing FEMA claim fraud issue.
Despite all this, I’ve been able to raise and invest more than $375,000 (about $250,000 more than the cash flow generated by the businesses) in property expansion, equipment and infrastructure improvement projects to convert the marina to a working aquaculture and commercial fishing center. We’ve expanded from less than 1 acre to almost 20 acres on multiple sites. We’ve solved quite a few problems but have many more to tackle. But the property here at Money Island is still worth less than zero due to all of the government claims.
I am confident that private investors and public funding sources are willing to commit substantially more money toward long term economic recovery if we can show that government is working with us and not against us.
I’ve made several proposals for repayment and restructuring of the real estate taxes to Downe Township, including a plan endorsed by leadership at the County and planners/representatives of the League of Municipalities but all have been flatly rejected. The mayor seems to think that some of the key properties here will change ownership based on a rumor from a friend/attorney. So this leaves me at a stalemate.
It is critical that we find a way to bring the Money Island Marina businesses back into taxpaying status with a strategy that will allow continued economic improvement. Nobody want to invest in a business that owns mostly submerged over-taxed properties that owe more to the government than they are worth! The land was offered to the state and large charities as a gift but apparently they have lost interest. Without any government cooperation or donors willing to accept the land, the marina business is almost certainly headed back to bankruptcy court.
Anything you can do to help is much appreciated.