Since its formation as a non-profit organization in 1999, the Flanders Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring, enhancing and maintaining “the Flanders Mansion property in the public domain as a historical, cultural and educational resource for the benefit of the community,” has repeatedly contacted the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea for the express purpose of discussing a public-private partnership for the long-term “low-intensity” public use of the Flanders Mansion. Yet, despite the Flanders Foundation having a business plan, operating plan, marketing plan, financial plan and the support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the State Office of Historic Preservation, Mayor Sue McCloud has obstinately refused to meet with members of the Flanders Foundation to discuss a public-private partnership for the Flanders Mansion. To wit, Mayor Sue McCloud has placed her own personal, misguided agenda of selling the Flanders Mansion ahead of her duty and responsibility as mayor of treating the city-owned National Register of Historic Places Flanders Mansion as an inheritance to be passed on to another generation of Carmelites in a better state than when she assumed stewardship of the Flanders Mansion in 2000.
Moreover, in the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Sale of the Flanders Mansion Property (RDEIR), the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea identified one primary objective and six secondary objectives, as follows:
The primary purpose of the proposed sale is “to divest the City of the Flanders Mansion Property which is in need of significant short-term and long-term repair and rehabilitation.”
In addition, the City cited six secondary objectives:
1) To ensure that the Flanders Mansion is preserved as an historic resource;
2) To ensure that the Flanders Mansion building and property are put to productive use;
3) To ensure that future use of the Flanders Mansion and property will not cause significant traffic, parking, or noise impacts on the surrounding neighborhood;
4) To ensure that future use will not significantly disrupt the public’s enjoyment of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve or the Lester Rowntree Native Plant Garden;
5) To ensure that environmental resources of the park are protected; and
6) To ensure that the Flanders Mansion parcel continues to provide the public with as many park benefits as are practical.
All of the six secondary project objectives can be accomplished through the leasing of the Flanders Mansion to the Flanders Foundation. Importantly, leasing the Flanders Mansion to the Flanders Foundation would avoid the identified “significant” and “unavoidable” adverse environmental impacts associated with the permanent loss of parkland. And, since the Flanders Mansion parcel has historically been an integral component of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve, leasing the Flanders Mansion to the Flanders Foundation would maintain the geographical integrity of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve, the city’s largest park. As to the primary objective, divestment of the Flanders Mansion because of repair and rehabilitation requirements, this represents an abdication of the duties and responsibilities of the City Council to comply with the Municipal Code and, most importantly, a failure to honor their responsibility as stewards of public buildings, property and parkland.
Lastly, the Flanders Foundation deserves acknowledgement from the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea and a commitment by the City to meet with members of the Flanders Foundation for the purpose of discussing a public-private partnership involving the leasing of the Flanders Mansion to the Flanders Foundation to ensure the Flanders Mansion remains a publically owned building and the integrity of Mission Trail Nature Preserve is maintained now and into the future.