After several public record requests of the OLF-8 Master Plan team’s external and stakeholder emails, we were also asked to turn over our internal emails and text messages as well.
In the interest of transparency, here they are, along with the memo from team leader Marina Khoury to the Board of County Commissioners.
On my email to Alison below, you will see attached a link to the internal team emails and text messages, per Commissioner Bergosh’s public records request on February 11th.
As you will find in our emails, the team certainly has opinions on this project and expresses them internally. You will see that the team is working diligently to include as many stakeholders as possible, but that we are also keenly aware of the political nature of this project, and we strive to avoid those entanglements. Our goal in this project has been to ensure that the public is heard, to be treated as professionals, and to provide you our best recommendation based on the scope of work in our contract.
We would also like to formally address some of the issues that have been raised over the past few weeks regarding this project.
County Staff Attendance
Based on our review of our meeting notes and requests, the only meetings where we were specifically asked for county staff to not be present were the meetings with Scott Luth. These meetings did discuss some confidential prospects in the economic development pipeline, as he explained to you earlier. Any other meetings where county staff were not present were set up by stakeholders directly with the team, and we did not think it necessary to include staff.
In addition, team members had one-on-one phone calls with stakeholders without staff or even other members of the contracting team. It has never been our practice, nor has it been for any of our clients, that a staff member was present in every interaction. That would be an incredibly time-intensive and unproductive use of your project manager’s time. In addition, it defeats the purpose of contracting with outside firms to manage stakeholder outreach.
We believe in engaging the public where they are. For us to get clear feedback, sometimes confidential plans from developers or other investors, or to simply create an environment for candid conversations, we do not share everything we are told. If constituents have opinions about the process or elected officials, unless we are asked to share those opinions, we do not. However, we draw all ideas presented to us, in public, at the charrette.
The same goes for you as our client. We do not share everything you tell us with the public. Our focus is on this project, and achieving the goals set forth in the contract. To be distracted by politics or personal agendas – from citizens or elected officials – would undermine that candid and trusting process.
Staff was present at our Town Hall meeting earlier this week and can provide you with an update.
Our Team’s Recommendation
To be clear, this team absolutely has a bias for the development OLF-8. That is what you hired us to do. In the same way that a doctor might tell a patient to watch their diet, get more exercise, or lose weight, so do we, as experts in our field, have recommendations that you are paying us to provide to you.
That should not be seen as subversive or as an attempt to undermine you. It should be seen as our contractually mandated effort to educate, provide context, and create expectations for the property, for both you and the public. It should be seen as the professionals you hired providing the advice you hired them to provide.
To be clear, we will design and develop the plan you direct us to provide when a majority of the board comes to that agreement. That does not mean our recommendation goes away, in the same way a doctor still provides care even if the patient doesn’t follow his recommendations to stop smoking or exercise more.
We hope this memo, along with our emails and text messages, address some of the questions and issues raised over the past few weeks and months. Our intention has always been to give you and the public the best information possible, based on our experience and data, for the development of OLF-8.
You have, with the Hybrid Plan, what we believe may be a workable solution for the future of OLF-8. This framework plan still needs refining, and there are still opportunities for adjusting it. We hope to see this process through and bring to the community a successful Master Plan, should you decide to move forward with our contract.
However, given the concern raised by some members of the BCC about the future of our engagement with you, we will respectfully wait for your direction or decision before we continue work on this project.
Marina Khoury RA CNU LEED