Two transactions show progress at Bluegrass ADD

July 2, 2014 

The troubled Bluegrass Area Development District recently sold a property it should never have purchased, and decided to buy another building it's already paid for.

This is progress, but justice will not be served until the individuals who for decades ran the ADD as a private kingdom financed by public funds are held accountable.

Yesterday the ADD's executive board voted to buy 699 Perimeter Drive in Lexington.

State Auditor Adam Edelen reported in his March examination of the Bluegrass ADD that $1.1 million of the $1.6 million purchase price was financed by public sources.

In addition, the ADD paid for the mortgage on the property for two decades under a lease with the Bluegrass Industrial Foundation, a related private nonprofit.

The BIF is run by the ADD's founding executive director, Jas Sekhon, who incorporated it while he was still at the ADD. The organizations share many board members and at times were audited together, according to Edelen's report.

Edelen concluded that public funds paid for the building and so the title should be held by a public organization. Apparently the ADD board had reached a similar conclusion because in 2012 it voted unanimously to acquire the building, instructing ousted executive Lenny Stoltz to negotiate the transaction.

Nothing happened although, typical of the ADD's management history, there's no explanation why in board minutes.

Equally mysterious was the line of reasoning that led the ADD — which is charged with coordinating regional planning and federal spending among local governments in Central Kentucky — to spend $600,000 on property on Trent Boulevard in 2012 and then another $500,000 — much through no-bid contracts — to turn it into a residential facility for former felons.

Stoltz refused to give neighborhood groups information about the project and declined their open records requests. The neighbors raised concerns that led to scuttling plans for the felon program, and Edelen's examination.

The ADD recently closed on the sale of that property to Episcopal Retirement Homes which will develop it for affordable housing for seniors.

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