During public comment a few minutes ago, I urged City Council to ask City Attorney Karla Nieman how it is the Paul Foster land swap was concluded although Great Wolf Lodge pulled out of its deal with the City of El Paso. I provide the text of my statement below in blue as well as my previous email, which includes Ms. Nieman’s original statement to City Council on November 13, 2018 under agenda item 18.1. Jud Burgess, who spoke some minutes before me, apparently had a similar question and, for the record, my comments were unconnected to his.
After public comment, Ms. Nieman spoke for three minutes in order to address my and Mr. Burgess’s comments. I have attached the audio to this email for your consideration. In my opinion, she did not answer my question but instead related the history of the City’s deals with FSW and Great Wolf Lodge. She concluded with the following statement:
“At no point did either staff or myself say that the deal to terminate the agreement with FSW was indefinite or that it would survive the closing of the transaction with FSW.”
I do not fully comprehend Ms. Nieman’s statement and, in any case, I do not think she answered my question. Her statement to Rep. Hernandez and the other City reps on November 13, 2018 was crystal clear to me; and again, I cannot find any clause in the agreement that states that the FSW deal would be cancelled if Great Wolf Lodge bailed out.
I have provided all the unedited sources here, and so you can decide for yourselves whether this issue is worth pursuing further.
Have a great day.
MY STATEMENT TO CITY COUNCIL DURING PUBLIC COMMENT, 14 APRIL 2020:
“Mayor and City Council.
On November 13, 2018, under agenda item 18.1, City Attorney Karla Nieman told City Council and the public that in the event Great Wolf Lodge withdrew from its contract with the City of El Paso, that Paul Foster’s land swap would be terminated.
I am talking about Mr. Foster’s trade of 44 acres in northwest El Paso for 2,313 acres in northeast El Paso, which is within TIRZ 13 and, thanks to City Council, is now eligible for decades of property tax forgiveness, to the detriment of El Paso taxpayers.
So on November 13, 2018, Rep. Cassandra Hernandez asked City Attorney Karla Nieman for her ironclad assurance that if Great Wolf Lodge bailed out that the land exchange with Paul Foster would be cancelled.
And I quote:
CITY ATTORNEY KARLA NIEMAN
“With respect to your concern regarding the land transfer, the City of El Paso has entered into a nine-month due-diligence process with Mr. Foster, his development corporation. In the event that Great Wolf Lodge decides to not come to El Paso, the deal with Mr. Foster will not go through. I’ve just received confirmation from his attorney that that’s the deal that we’ve entered into. So there’s still a period of time in which both parties are evaluating the transaction. So I believe that you still have an opportunity to allow this to move forward and if Great Wolf decides to not come in, the deal doesn’t [go through].”
“Thank you Mrs. Neiman, that’s exactly the response I was looking for. Is that reflected in this agreement.”
So you see, the City Attorney stated the land exchange would be cancelled, and the land exchange was not cancelled. In fact, it has been concluded, and so has the revision of TIRZ 13. She also told Rep. Hernandez and City Council that the agreement, which was attached to the agenda item, terminates the land swap in the event that Great Wolf Lodge withdraws. I read through the agreement and could find no such language.
I would urge City Council to ask the City Attorney how it is that the land swap went through, in spite of her statement in 2018.