Markell report questions DelDot land deals

DelDot did not display a “demonstrated the necessary judgment and competence” in negotiating land deals for a Route 113 by-pass, but didn’t do anything wrong. 

Governor Jack Markell’s chief of staff Tom McGonigle released a 53 page report in response to a series of reports done by the News Journal.  He says there was no illegal conduct in negotiating land deals in Georgetown, Millsboro and Dagsboro.  The reports also suggests that Secretary of Transportation Carolyn Wicks give serious consideration to changing its senior personnel.  The report singles out Ralph Reeb, DelDot director of planning, and assistant director Wayne Rizzo.

The News Journal reported:  DelDOT had struck two lucrative land “reservation” deals with wealthy and politically-connected real estate developers in Sussex County. McGonigle’s investigation revealed a third deal, which has since been terminated.

The McGonigle report outlines several recommendations for change:

1. Reservation agreements should go to the Advanced Acquisition Committee.

2. The Advanced Acquisition Committee should review the terms of the reservation agreement and acquisitions, as opposed to simply reviewing conformity with state land-use plans.

3. All reservation agreements should be reviewed by legal counsel.

4. DelDOT requires personnel that can negotiate sophisticated real estate transactions.

5. DelDOT’s independent appraisers should do an appraisal on every reservation agreement expected to involve payment of more than $50,000 a year.

6. Legislators and Governor’s Office officials who work with DelDOT on disputed issues should ensure that their desire for an expeditious result is not construed as pressure to avoid due diligence or the exercise of appropriate judgment.

7. Financial controls should be reviewed to ensure adequate documentation of payments.

8. With respect to the current reservation agreements, DelDOT should complete an appraisal of the Patriot’s landing property and should evaluate and memorialize a final agreement for Moorings at Pepper’s Creek.

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