Democrats: RiverWinds Accusations Based on "Thinnest of Facts"
Claims of a missing $4.5 million were done without proof, West Deptford Democrats said.
The $4.5 million that allegedly went missing from the RiverWinds golf project isn’t missing at all, according to West Deptford Democrats, who accused township redevelopment counsel Mark Cimino of intentionally misleading the public by presenting findings without the full establishing documentation.
At his presentation before the township committee and dozens of members of the public last week, Cimino highlighted a huge gap between what loan documents said the cost of the golf course and tennis center would be—about $5.4 million—and the total loan from Fulton Bank, which came in at $9.945 million.
But by making that presentation without all the facts—and Cimino admitted during the presentation to not having all the loan documents he was looking for from the bank—Democrats said he failed to do his homework and misled the public in doing so.
“It was just a big finger-pointing game,” committeewoman Denice DiCarlo said. “In my world, you don’t necessarily raise these red flags without proof.”
Local Democratic Party chair Gerald White, who was township administrator when the golf course went through, called it a smear campaign on “the thinnest of facts” by the Republicans, who brought Cimino on board this year.
“The thing that is most egregious is that he stood up in a meeting of the governing body and basically accused the golf developer,” White said. “It’s a blatant lie.”
Those developers—Arret and Emory Dobson, who also built White Oaks in Franklin Township—weren’t immediately available for comment, but White said he’d been in contact with them.
“The golf developer is not happy,” White said.
And since the bank wouldn’t have released the nearly $10 million in one shot, DiCarlo said it was an unwise move to raise those red flags without seeing what payments went out from the bank on the project as the course was constructed.
“I think if anything, it makes Mark Cimino look less credible,” DiCarlo said.
She also called the lack of solutions regarding the redevelopment effort out at RiverWinds frustrating.
“They want to paint everybody in such a bad light, rather than just focusing on moving forward,” DiCarlo said. “How can we turn this around?”
Cimino, for his part, hasn’t made any direct accusations of wrongdoing—he referenced the possibility of cost overruns that night as one potential explanation—and has maintained he’s looking at it with the best interests of residents in mind.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of that,” Cimino said during his presentation. “I would be remiss if I didn’t dig deeper.”
But without the bank’s cooperation and the loan documentation—and Fulton Bank had yet to provide those details as of Tuesday, despite a request several months ago—Cimino said that’s not possible.
“I haven’t seen anything yet,” he said.