Publisher's Note: Alderman hooked on cash
By Jody Reese
Manchester city government recently made the right decision, though for the wrong reasons.
It had decided to sell two parking lots in the Millyard, which is chronically short on parking spaces. These two lots are next to the Pandora Mill, the Millyard’s only remaining uninhabited mill building. The building is owned by Segway inventor Dean Kamen. Kamen offered to pay $950,000 for the two lots and develop Pandora, bringing the city about $200,000 a year in property taxes. Condo king Brady Sullivan was on the other side offering $1.52 million and promising to building a parking garage on the lots. Though a committee recommended that the city sell to Kamen to get the Pandora mill developed, a group of aldermen overruled that and voted to sell it to Brady Sullivan for the quick cash.
Now it won’t come as a surprise that aldermen tend to act like drug addicts when it comes to money, but even the most cash-addicted aldermen surely can see the greater benefit in developing the last mill building.
In the end Kamen raised his offer to $1.52 million and won the deal.
A case can be made for getting fair market value for city property. However, unlike a private property owner, city government should look at the economic impact of selling (or even giving away) its property.
In this case, it would have been impossible to develop the Pandora building without these parking lots. In essence, the aldermen were saying rehabbing the last mill building isn’t worth $570,000 to the city right now. My concern is that the mill is in such disrepair and the real estate market (both commercial and residential) is getting so bad that this project could easily stall out.
A wiser move for Manchester would have been for the aldermen to take $950,000 up front and ask for the $570,000 extra on the back end once the property was developed. This would show everyone involved that getting this last piece developed is important to the city — which it is.
Not in my backyard, but we’ll take the jobs
The Manchester recycling center deal isn’t quite dead. Last year before city elections, Mayor Frank Guinta said he opposed the recycling center on the West Side that would have brought millions into city government and created dozens of well-paying jobs.
Now that a new location has been found off Brown Avenue in the southern part of the city (near the airport), some in city government think a deal can be reached.
Unfortunately for city taxpayers, aldermen representing the southern part of the city, Betsie DeVries and Mike Garrity, are opposed. Everyone’s on board until it’s in their neighborhood.
There is a case to be made for appropriate uses of land. It wouldn’t be appropriate to put a Wal-Mart in a residential neighborhood on Hanover Hill. But the area suggested for the recycling center is next to other factories, distribution centers and the city’s water treatment center, and the location is in sight of the highway.
This is a good deal for Manchester. We should take it while it’s still on the table.