When Kaufman saw the soil-sampling crew the next day, he sent the photos to Mayor Dave Alvord and asked for an explanation.
"It's a preliminary step and doesn't imply that we've decided on a direction to develop, in fact, it's evidence that we don't have a direction," Alvord responded in an email to Kaufman.
"Our city has sought after Hale Center Theater for years, and are currently in talks with them, but we understand that Sandy is also interested in bringing Hale to their city," Alvord wrote. "Hale could be a wonderful addition to this area, but they have not committed to us, and I wish I could tell you when they will."
"We are also in talks with other developers, and are keeping an open mind for the future of the area, as we hope you will too."
On his Facebook page, Alvord reiterated that the samples are simply to determine what options are available and that city leaders are from making any decision about the property.
"We've also talked about a convention hotel, food truck area, splash pads, expanded parks, restaurants, carousels, and big trees, maybe with a mix of commercial and recreation," Alvord posted. "Maybe maintaining the driving range (the most popular part of Mulligans), and then take it to the people."
The mayor could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Kaufman said in an interview it feels to him as though a decision to develop the property has already been made. He wants the city to do more to involve the public.
"It would be nice if they would conduct a study, a poll to see what the city wants, instead what we're getting six people making a unilateral decision," Kaufman said.
He said the city took too long to release the report suggesting the development of Mulligans. That study was withheld as a protected document until the council formally accepted it April 1, although it had been completed last May. Kaufman also said city leaders should have told residents at the April 15 meeting that they were going to begin soil sampling.
"It just has cast this cloud of suspicion over everything," Kaufman said. "It's been so tainted."
Alvord said in a separate Facebook post that he wants to know how the majority of residents feels about developing Mulligans through some combination of public hearings, referendums and polling. He also said he hopes residents will "hold their fire" until there is an actual proposal and keep an open mind.
"If people understand that we may have to delay new parks to Keep Mulligans as is, or that taxes may have to go up to not change Mulligans, and they choose that option, then I think the people should be respected," Alvord posted.