FACT: I did not fight hard
against it. I fought for the residents of Irmo to be notified and informed about the decision to spend $200,000+ dollars
to buy the land, and another 1.5 mil to develop the park. Council was trying to buy the land without any input from
the citizens whether we wanted the land, what did they want in the park, was the location a good location, what about the
people who lived around the park, and to give them time to respond and inform us. Council did not want to do that. Barry Walker, Jake Moore included, and Harvey Hoots all wanted to hurry up and buy the land and build a permanent home for the Okra Strut Festival. It had nothing to do with building a park for the community. The first night the subject
came up under discussion. I have the minutes and they are online. There was talk about building an amphitheater, a playground, bathrooms, and a picnic shelter. I informed Council in that discussion what we had talked about was gonna cost between $1.3-
1.5 million dollars plus the cost of the land. Kathy said she would never approve that kind of money, Barry said he
wouldn't approve spending over $700,000 and that I didn't know what I was talking about because I was adding this stuff
up on a piece of paper and it would never cost that much money.
The man who designed and engineered
the park informed us after we bought the land and had him design the park it was gonna cost $1.4 million. Councilman
Hoots made the comment we should get rid of the playground and picnic shelter and start eliminating to get the cost
down. I informed them no, you told the people you were building a park for the community with a playground and picnic shelter
and they need to leave that stuff in there.
Jake Moore said “I'm talking the park when we built it. He (Hardy) delayed the
park about two years and fought against it. He insisted on 100' buffer. He said it wouldn't be used. He said it would
be a drug haven. He said it would harm the community. It's all in the minutes and all in the press. Ask Kathy and Barry
who fought for it. I think he even accused Kathy of an ethics violation over it.”
FACT 2: Jake says I delayed the park two years. That is a lie. The park was not delayed
two years. Weather delayed the park from getting finished in time to have the Okra Strut for 2013 which Council was wanting to get the park finished for. But unless Jake believes that I am God, and
I can control the weather, but I will admit that I do pray a lot and I probably have a better prayer path with God than
Jake does but I did not delay the park two years. It did not even get delayed two years. The funny and silly thing of it all, if Town Council
would have agreed to wait about 6 months before beginning the park we could have applied for a $500,000 grant from SC Parks
and Recreation but they were in a hurry to get the park started so it could be completed for the next Okra Strut. It rained toward
end of construction and delayed it, and it wasn't completed in time to have the Okra Strut Festival held there. So in the end we could have waited the six month's and applied for
the $500 thousand grant and probably received it, either way we didn't have the Okra Strut at the park that year, and
we lost the $500,000. The festival was held at another location that year. Jake honestly probably knows that but would rather falsify stuff
than be truthful.
FACT 3: I did not insist on a 100' buffer. Councilmembers Harvey and
Barry, Paul and others offered the 100' buffer to the residents adjoining the park property who had complaints about
the possible noise from the festival, etc. being in their backyard. At one point they realized how much land was going
to be used for the picnic shelter, the bathrooms, the parking lot, the road, the wetland creek area through it, the
playground. It was gonna be a tight fit putting everything in it so those council members decided to change the 100'
buffer to 50 foot. I “insisted” we need to keep a 100' buffer like we told and promised the residents. Barry
and Harvey both stated we had never voted on it and that had never been approved. My wife remembered the bulletin/flyer
that had been put out from Barry and Harvey showing everyone the 100' buffer, and she got a copy. I informed the residents
of what Council was trying to do, and what they said on their flyer. The residents came to Council meeting, they and I
insisted and forced Council to go back to the 100' buffer they had promised in black and white (or you might say color
since it was a color flyer they had produced and handed out originally).
FACT 4: I never said it wouldn't be used, never said it would be a drug haven, never said it
would harm the community. Let Jake Moore find it in the minutes and prove it. I did say we need to patrol it and have
hours of operation and the ability to close it and lock it to make it more difficult for people to go in at night and do
whatever people do in the middle of the night, and that we needed to be careful about noise and activity so as not to
harm the quality of life and the tranquility of the adjoining property owners. Those are all legitimate concerns an
intelligent elected official should have for his citizens and residents. Jake is not a citizen of Irmo or a resident, and he was not an elected official even though he liked to pretend
he was and wished he was. I'm still not sure why he is on the Citizens of the Town of Irmo facebook page when he lives
out on the lake, and not in our Town, but that is a whole different story.
FACT 5: Jake finally did put
on his legal hat and say “I think he even accused Kathy of an ethics violation over it”. Because he knows
I didn't. There was a contract to buy the 14 acres presented to the Town of Irmo. When I asked who did the contract, I
was informed by our Town Administrator he didn't want to get involved in that. I knew then something was up. Simple
question, deserves a simple answer. I asked him was the contract a Coldwell Banker contract? He informed me yes. At
that time Councilwoman Kathy Condom worked for Coldwell Banker. According to State Ethics Rules of Conduct an elected
official cannot vote on anything that they, their immediate family members, or their employer would have a financial
gain or interest. That is called a conflict of interest. I informed Mr. Hansen he needed to let Councilwoman Condom know she could not vote.
Again, I was told basically he wasn't getting involved in that, and I understood why. I wanted to verify my knowledge
of the State Ethics Rules of Conduct to make sure my interpretation was correct. I called them, they said it was, told me where the statute was, and they emailed me a copy of it. From my understanding our previous Mayor also spoke with Kathy about this to let
her know she could not vote at the meeting on the purchase of the land. Now, I will put on my attorney hat and say “I
think I remember hearing our Town Attorney, Jake Moore, had informed Councilwoman Kathy Condom that it was “okay”
for her to vote on it since she wasn't financially gaining.” But that ain't what the law says. The law includes your employer, Coldwell Banker was her employer. As far as I remember
I did not accuse her of an ethics
violation, neither did the previous mayor, she was just advised she couldn't vote. And when it came time to vote, Kathy did recuse herself according to SC State Ethics
Commission requirements. Two
people voted for the purchase of the land, two voted against
it. It didn't have majority so it died.
Jake Moore said “He (Hardy) also rejected 12 free acres and accused me of wrongdoing when we built the Veterans
Park and gave it to the town”.
FACT 6: The 12 acres Jake is
referring to was offered to the Town back in 2011. Council had agreed to postpone that acceptance and decision until
after the election so any new Council members would be able to make that decision, not the current ones. After the 2011
election, I was elected Mayor, Paul Younginer was elected to Council, Barry was still on Council, Kathy was no longer on
Council. We as a Council received a letter from a property owner about receiving the 12 acres of land. The letter had
valued the land at around $1 million or more. I had stated at a Council meeting if someone wanted to give us the land
that is one thing, but we were not going to, as a Council, agree to the value of the land. It was not applicable what the value is, if someone wants to
give you something. That is up to them and the IRS as far as tax purposes. Mr. Moore, our Town Attorney at the time gave
me and Council a copy of an appraisal stating the land was worth
$1 million or more. Being I had been in the real estate business years ago and
familiar with appraisals and market analysis and comparables, I looked at the comparables they had used to arrive at their price. They used a couple commercial lots on St Andrews Rd near the I-26 interchange
which had 24 hour service stations and a McDonalds on them. I did not feel
a property that was not zoned commercial, was not on St Andrews, was on a dead end street, very unbuildable, and didn't have the traffic count, was NOT a comparable property, and therefore not worth the same as the other
properties used in the comparison. I picked up the phone and called
the appraiser to question that. I was asked how I got the appraisal, that it was only for the property owner (her client),
I informed her our “Town Attorney had given us a copy of it. She wanted to know how our “town attorney” got a copy of it. I informed her our Town Attorney was friends
with the property owner and probably the attorney for the property owner. Now most people would consider that a conflict
of interest, how can one attorney serve two different clients, one on the giving end, and one on the receiving end, and watch out for the best interest
of both parties? But I guess
some attorney's are miraculous
miracle workers and fully capable of not having a conflict of interest. Anyways, the appraiser informed me it was not an IRS qualified appraisal which would meet the standards IRS requires for a true value as to a tax write-off. It was just more or less an appraisal to show what the property could be worth to someone
not scrutinizing that closely. So
the 12 acres was not donated to the Town. I informed the property owner they could donate the property to the Arbor
Day and Jake Moore could verify it was worth whatever they wanted to say it was worth. I didn't care, but the Town wasn't
going to. And then, if the Arbor Day wanted to donate it to the Town, that would be their business and our business.
So the land was donated to the Arbor Day, and the Arbor Day donated it to the Town. While the Town was deciding as a Council what to do with the Land, whether we wanted to spend any money on it,
whether we wanted to apply for a SC Parks Grant to help build and develop a
park. Then one day out of
the blue, we were told we had
a grant for the park from SC Parks &
Recreation. None of us knew anything about it.
Which is all well and fine and good, until a citizen Pat Donlon started asking questions. Since I or Mr. Brown or any Council member knew anything
about it, we couldn't answer the questions. We had not applied, the Town had not applied. There was a story there, a whole different story
I won't get into now, but it appears somebody applied for a grant on our behalf, and when they were told they couldn't
do that without having an authorized signature from the Town on the grant, they didn't come to the Town, they didn't
call our Town Administrator, they got somebody that as far as I understand to this day, was not and is not authorized
to apply for a grant, to sign for the grant. But Jake Moore said we got the money, that's all that really matters and how we got it doesn't. Council did vote to ratify the signature, and the application
for the grant, that none of us knew anything about. So when he says “we” built the Veterans park and gave it to the Town” that is not a fact.
The land was already given to us, it had to be in the Town's name to apply for the grant, and the grant was written
to the Town, and the Town built the park. Not Jake Moore, not the Arbor Day. They only donated the Land, the Town built
FACT 7: When we were building the community park, not the veterans park, he is right
we are not guaranteed a grant. Not sure what Jake means by “we”. But he is correct in saying “the Town”
was not guaranteed the grants, however, we were highly encouraged to apply because they typically don't give out that
grant money, because it requires a 50% match. A lot of municipalities don't have it, so don't apply. We could have applied for a $500,000 grant as long as we had $500,000 to match
it, and we did. In fact, we spent $2 million out of our cash reserve to pay for the park, so more than likely we would have got it. He said if
the Town would have waited, “Hardy would find a way to sabotage”. It is amazing that one individual (Hardy)
could strike so much fear in four other Council members, the semi-self appointed
member/town attorney, with only one vote, and could cause so much
havoc. I'm not sure if I should count that as a compliment that one member of Council could “trump” four other
council members and an attorney with presumably a lot of legal strategic ability. The grant would have paid a portion, that's true, but a $500,000 portion that at the time would have been 30% of
the cost of developing the park. As
they say, $500,000 here, $500,000 there, sooner or later you're talking real money. Well at least me and Jake agree on one thing, or two, I wanted to
wait for the grant, he says he wanted to, but that wasn't his call. I agree he is not elected, and it wasn't his call,
but he was the puppet master for some, he could have pulled the string like he normally does, but I guess sometimes
they do make their own decisions.
FACT 8: 100' is twice what is needed, 50' would have been fine in
most places, according to Jake. 100' could be three times what is needed if you decided 33' was enough. But Jake didn't
get to decide, he wasn't a policy maker, an elected official, and Council decided on a 100', not 50', so evidently 100'
is what Council decided, and promised to the residents.
As Jake Moore and Barry Walker
continue to fabricate, falsify, and flat out lie, I will continue to correct their statements on this page throughout
the election campaign so you, the residents, can read, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story”.