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Greenbank deal goes against recommendation | Letter
With a surprise vote and no public discussion, the Port of Coupeville extended yet another contract with the private Greenbank Farm Management Group.
The motion to extend the contract, at a yearly cost to taxpayers of $49,950, was made by Commissioner Marshall Bronson and seconded by Commissioner Michael Diamanti.
Commissioner Benye Weber and members of the public were blindsided by the move.
Nothing on the agenda indicated a motion or vote would take place and both occurred after the opportunity for public comment passed.
Diamanti is filling out the term of Commissioner Laura Blankenship, who resigned from the port after accusing Bronson and the port’s Executive Director Jim Patton of “backroom scheming” to benefit the Greenbank Farm Management Group.
The $49,950 management services agreement is the second contract with the management group to be extended past its expiration date. The first was the lease between the Port of Coupeville and the management group. It required no payment to the port and it allowed the management group to keep money from rentals of port property.
Had the lease expired, a holdover clause provided for the port to collect $10,000 in “monthly rent” from the management group.
By extending the lease, the port passed on the option of collecting this money.
Bronson’s and Diamanti’s recent move to extend the management services agreement, in addition to the lease, is the final thumbing of the nose at an eight-member executive planning group that unanimously recommended against renewal of the two contracts.
Those eight citizens, including myself as chairperson, were appointed by the port to evaluate the management group and make recommendations for transitioning to a new arrangement for management of the Greenbank Farm. After six months of interviews and research, all of us, including the three members appointed by Commissioner Bronson, recommended against renewal of the two contracts. We felt that the contracts did not serve the interests of taxpayers. Both contracts would not have expired until March 31, 2014. Now they have been extended until June of 2015.
Commissioners Bronson and Diamanti have locked the port and taxpayers into a contractual relationship with the Greenback Farm Management Group well into the future and, conveniently, before this next election.