Statement from Mayor Jay Gillian:I learned today that the Ocean City group Fairness in Taxes is circulating a petition to stop the (city’s) purchase of the car dealership next to the Ocean City Community Center.I want anybody who might consider signing this petition to be aware of the potential consequences of this action. The owners of the lot have the ability to build 29 coastal cottages and a single-family home on the lot, and if the city does not purchase the property, they will.The members of FIT seem to think they know better than two independent and highly qualified real estate appraisers what the value of this property is. These professional appraisals are accurate and important, but the most important factor is what the owners will do with this city block. I’m including a letter from Harry and Jerry Klause stating their preference to preserve the property for public use, but also their willingness to develop the property to get a much greater return.I am grateful to the Klauses for giving the city this opportunity, and I believe them when they say they will develop it if they are forced to do so. I understand that some may believe that the Klauses may be making this claim in order to protect a prospective deal with the city. But the consequences of testing them are pretty clear: another city block filled with dense residential development. Mayor Jay GillianLetter follows:To City Council, Administration Officials, and the Mayor:Yesterday (City Solicitor) Dottie (McCrosson) told us David Nahan inquired about the process to force a general referendum on the purchase of our property at 16th Street. If 400 or so voters sign a petition by October 10, City Council will be estopped from bonding the funds needed to complete the purchase until the results of that referendum. This will effectively kill the deal and Harry and I will be forced to go into the real estate development business.We are the most reluctant real estate developers Ocean City has ever seen. Not because of the money, we would make more. Not because of the effort, Klauses know how to work. It’s because on rare occasions personal interest and civic mindfulness walk in tandem.This year marks the 100th anniversary of our grandparents, Emil and Mary Palmer, moving their family to Ocean City from Philadelphia. At the first meeting we had with the Mayor to discuss the purchase, Harry and I recounted the many stories of our family’s century living here.This town has been very good to the Palmers, Floods and Klauses and my grandmother, who had the entrepreneurial spirit and foresight to purchase this property in 1956, (and) would want us to sell it to the City and get a fair price. You, and I’m sure the majority of voters in town, understand this is the right thing for the City and a unique opportunity. But there are 400 people who will sign this petition by October 10.We are not presuming to tell you how to govern or communicate with the public but we believe the positive benefits of the purchase for the City need to be articulated by you at tomorrow’s Council Meeting. While a tract of almost 2 acres of land is certainly unique, we think the building is the best asset for the City. We have a solid quote to remove the building and blacktop for $90,000.00. The reason the price is low is because the building will not be razed but deconstructed, relocated and sold. It’s a giant erector set. How much would it cost for the City to build a 20,000 square foot building? I think the Firehouse at 29th street cost 400 a square foot. That’s almost the whole price of the purchase.What can you do with the building? How about indoor soccer and baseball camps in the winter or community movie nights. I’m sure the Recreation Department and Community Center could fill the place up.It does flood at 16th Street but the only time water ever got in the building was Sandy, one time in 45 years. Maybe it’s not the best place for a Police Department but where will the Police go when 8th and Wesley is remodeled? Look how useful the property was this summer for the Police and for Community Center and Night In Venice Parking.$9,000,000.00 is a lot of money. In 2001, we sold Palmer Field to the City for $3,000.000.00. That’s still a lot of money and the market price at the time for 24 duplex lots. How good does that purchase look today?This seems so obvious but it needs to be spelled out. In the absence of this narrative, the week long news cycle of the Sentinel will fill the void. You’re playing long ball for future generations and these people are playing pepper.Personally I’ve been through this grist mill three times in Ocean City, trying to develop our property at 13th and the Boardwalk in the 70’s, my house on the North End and the Charter School. We are entering a logic free zone. Business deals are not like fine wines that improve with the fermentation process. Thank you for your consideration.Harry and Jerry Klause This was the former car lot that was demolished on the piece of property the city wants to acquire it.