About three months ago I was informed about a real estate deal in town with a church, the fishy part of the transaction is that the citizens of Maricopa will be paying for the whole thing.
The deal is this, of 15 acres the church is planning to buy from El Dorado Holdings, they plan to retain five acres and sell 10 acres to the city of Maricopa. So the residents, the tax payers, will probably pay about $10,000 to $20,000 more than what the church paid per acre for the remaining 10.
Sweet deal, right?
I think not.
So I started attending the City Council meetings on a regular basis. Still, nothing that could be linked to the church deal until the meeting on Jan. 15. I arrived an hour early at 6:05 p.m. I thought the meeting started at 7 p.m., but as it turns out, my timing was perfect.
In the audience I noticed kids with football jerseys. That didn’t throw up any red flags right away. Then I focused on the speaker’s podium. The man with the microphone announced to the City Council that we as a community are short two football fields. He said that he researched the surrounding communities and we were definitely in need of two football fields.
The next speaker said basically the same thing: two football fields.
Right after that, the Council moved to executive session where they can discuss items in secret, behind closed doors.
“Wow,” I said to myself, “so that is how this deal is going down. Who is going to deprive the kids two football fields? They just had an expert witness tell them that they needed the two fields.”
As the time neared 7 p.m., the place filled up. I had a single chair to my left. The gentleman who took the seat introduced himself as Tony Smith and said that he was running for mayor.
My response to that was to ask him his background.
Smith said he ran the Planning and Zoning Commission for the city of Maricopa. I tried to contain myself. I thought, “This can’t be happening. This is what I have been attending these meetings for.”
I turned the agenda flier around to the back side and asked him to help me out with some zoning questions.
“My question is regarding the Pacana Park expansion,” I told him.
We drew a map on the paper starting with all the housing corners finally I narrowed it to the back side of the park where the land was needed for the additional fields. I asked who owns that property, He replied that it was owned by a developer.
I said, “Now that is a 15-acre piece of property set aside for a church?”
His reply was that it was set aside for “worship,” whatever that means.
I finally got him to admit that it was set aside for a church. I followed up by saying that “I know that the Community of Hope Church has this land tied up in escrow, and I just witnessed the key needed to open Pandora’s Box.”
This is what I think and how I got there. The Community of Hope can’t close escrow until the city of Maricopa commits to the 10 acres, which they could not do until they had this dog-and-pony show to reveal the need for the additional fields.
Smith turned white and he knew I had him.
“It’s like that, but not really,” he said.
What does that mean?
He just had a meltdown. This guy can’t be a mayor. He said I’d have to talk to Rusty Akers, the lead pastor for Community of Hope church. I did speak to Akers, who denied that he has any kind of a deal set up with the city of Maricopa.
When I told him that I have known about it for almost three months he still denied it. However, when I told him I was holding a plot map from the city that clearly shows the church and the two football fields all neatly divided up, he said that is something that the city must being doing without his knowledge, and he is not in escrow with the city.
The city is doing this without his knowledge. I find that statement very hard to believe. In my opinion Akers is not being completely truthful and is trying to cover up for the co-conspirators with the city regarding this deal.
Guess what church Tony Smith attends? You got it. Community of Hope. He is in charge of “teams and events.” I wonder how many Council members attend the church, or even staff members who have insider information on land deals which are costing the taxpayers money.
You don’t have to look very far to figure out who the players are. Now that the veil has been lifted on this scheme, maybe the Community of Hope will do the right thing and purchase only the five acres its needs and deed the other 10 over to the city rather trying to line their pockets.
Robbie Olson is a resident of Rancho El Dorado and can be reached at RobbieOlson@Gmail.com.