FORT LAUDERDALE, August 10. FORT Lauderdale Vice Mayor Carlton Moore has called for the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) to be evicted from its location near the ocean because it owes the city money, according to a story in the South Florida Sun Sentinel by Lisa J. Huriash.
Moore, who admits he does not actually know how much the Hall owes, says he believes the amount is
"substantial" and that he will propose evicting ISHOF in September despite the fact that ISHOF's lease does not expire for another 12 years.
"It's a one-sided relationship and has been for a number of years," Moore said. "The only benefactor from this relationship is the Swimming Hall of Fame. End the relationship."
ISHOF Director Dr. Sam Freas would not say how much is owed. He said that ISHOF will pay, but not before next month, when the board of directors meets, he said.
According to the Sun Sentinel article, Dr. Freas said "the city is making him a scapegoat for its budget problems, and the whole issue is born of the strained relationship between the city and swimming hall.
"'The money could be paid today, but our board is an international board, and we only meet four times a year,' he said.
"A 1991 agreement between the city and swimming hall calls for the hall to use the city's parking lot and set aside 10 percent of the proceeds for maintenance. It stipulates that if the contract is terminated, the city gets to collect the money. But since the contract was terminated in January 2002 after the swimming hall said it would leave the city, the swimming hall hasn't paid.
"Stu Marvin, the city's aquatics manager, said the city doesn't know how much money it is owed because the swimming hall hasn't turned over internal audits to show how much has been collected. The city shouldn't be waiting for payment in 2003, he said.
"'I'm not a happy camper when people don't pay us money they owe us, especially in today's budget crunch,' said Commissioner Christine Teel.
"Last week, Freas e-mailed city commissioners a letter complaining that he has asked for mediation but has been ignored.
"'To think that the remedy for the city's budget woes lies in any `lack of cooperation' by ISHOF regarding parking revenues is ridiculous,' Freas wrote. 'This issue and others could have been settled months ago if city staff so desired.'
"City Attorney Harry Stewart said mediation would likely be scheduled within the next few weeks. But that also frustrates commissioners.
"'One does not need to mediate requests,' Moore said.
"Marvin said the city would prefer to see audited financial statements first, 'and then we can sit down and talk about whatever is on their mind.'
"The hall's relationship with Fort Lauderdale has become rocky.
"Freas talked about leaving the city in 2001 after city officials doubted the hall's value to the city and refused to build a new swimming complex. The city has since decided to build its own complex.
"He backed out of a plan that would have moved the hall to Hollywood after facing opposition there. A plan to move to Pompano Beach was halted by commissioners after a public outcry, although Freas and developer Michael Swerdlow are trying to salvage the deal."