Deadline Passes on State School Property

CONCORD — As the deadline set by the Legislature for selling the former Laconia State School site on North Main Street passed yesterday without so much as an offer, City Councilor Matt Lahey (Ward 2) said that he will likely ask the council to resubmit its $2.16-million bid for the property.
In the 2011-12 budget, the Legislature directed the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to sell the property to the city for $10-million and, failing that, to Belknap County for its fair market value. If neither the city nor the county purchased the property, DAS was instructed to hire an agent to market, promote and negotiate the sale of the property on the open market by May 1, 2013 in return for six-percent of the selling price. In the meantime, the state would be responsible for "minimal maintenance" at the site.
When the state appraised the property for $2.16-million, the city submitted its matching bid, which DAS shelved. After the county passed on the offer and DAS contracted with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. of New York to sell the property the city withdrew its offer.
Michael Connor, director of the Bureau of Purchase and Property at DAS, said yesterday that "we received a couple of inquiries, but no offers" and with the passing of the deadline the contract with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas expired.
Connor noted that the Legislature exempted the transaction from the statutory process of disposing of state property, which requires review by the Council of Resources and Development, consisting of officials of major state agencies, and the approval of the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, composed primarily of legislators. Consequently, if DAS receives any further offers, he explained that whether to present them to the Governor and Executive Council would rest with the discretion of Linda Hodgdon, commissioner of administrative services.
Meanwhile, a bill (Senate Bill 19) that would repeal the original legislation and apply the statutory process to any move to sell the state school property has carried the Senate and is scheduled to be heard by the House Public Works and Highways Committee next week. The Senate amended the bill by attaching a controversial provision that would eliminate one of three toll booths on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack, which will likely meet opposition in the House.
SB19 would assign the Legislature significant authority over the future of the state school property. Some lawmakers are outright opposed to sellng the property while others believe it is worth much more than its appraised value, which is the basis for the city's offer.