LOMPOC, Calif. - A $220 million space center project in Lompoc has hit yet another snag. The Lompoc City Council decided to cut ties with the non-profit behind the huge development.
It happened in the midst of many news reports indicating the non-profit has multiple financial issues.
The founder of the non-profit says despite what's been reported about it's finances, the organization had everything in line to keep negotiations moving forward. Lompoc City Council meanwhile say time is up.
City Councilman Dirk Starbuck says, "we still haven't gotten anywhere. We're exactly where we were and we're tying up a lot of our staff time now."
Starbuck was part of Tuesday night's unanimous vote to end the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the non-profit behind the California Space Enterprise Center. City Council contends that the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Education Group, or EEG, failed to meet deadlines to provide proof of funding for the $220 million project set to be built near the Allan Hancock campus.
"There is kind of a standoff and we don't want to encumber our property," says Starbuck.
But the founder of EEG, Alan Tratner, is up in arms over the council's decision.
"We believe there was a huge error by the city staff that we didn't get to respond to," says Tratner.
Tratner says EEG hit every milestone, which included a master business plan, a hard contract with a qualified developer, and letters of intent from a variety of funding sources. In recent weeks, news reports showed EEG had a negative balance for two of it's last three fiscal years, according to IRS records. Tratner didn't deny the reports but said looks can be deceiving especially when he claimed the numbers were skewed because the IRS switched their fiscal year and had the non-profit file in the middle of the year.
"If that really swayed city council after all the months of people standing up in support for it and making beautiful cases for the Space Enterprise Center, that would be a shame," says Tratner.
City council also directed staff to issue a formal Request for Proposal, which means any group that's interested in the space center project can submit a proposal to take over the project when the city opens it back up.
Tratner says EEG will make another proposal "if the conditions are right".
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