To The Daily Sun,
Because my motion to sell the property at 21 Elm St. to Lakeport Landing was defeated, 3-2 on Tuesday night, I would like to share my statement with the public.
First, do no harm. We all know that is the Doctor's Creed, but isn't that what we should all adhere to.
As a city councilor, that is what I believe we should keep in mind at all times when we are buying, selling, making budgets, redoing ordinances, zoning laws, etc. After all, as councilors we are not dealing with inanimate objects, we are dealing with people, people who are the city, whether they are just stay-at-home folks, blue collar workers, professionals, taxpayers of every ilk.
Sometimes we forget that and put a price tag on something and cut out the human factor or the fair thing. Our job is not always fiduciary because we are dealing with human beings and human problems. We are dealing with people's lives and their businesses. We are dealing with our neighbors.
While the city is financially sound, we all know that the quality of life and the employment situation are far from desirable. We are fighting to revitalize downtown, a fight that has gone on for years, and we are trying to bring manufacturing jobs to the area to create better jobs. We all know too many working in service jobs, part-time jobs and people who must work two jobs to survive. We also know that 60 percent of the children in school qualify for free or partially funded meals because they live at a poverty level. That tells you how many homesteads are struggling.
My point: when the city is considering selling property or making exceptions in building or zoning laws, we must look at the human and fair thing as well as the dollar sign. What our actions will mean to that person or that business because of our actions has to be considered. It goes beyond a single action. How it affects someone else can snowball. People will wonder how they will be treated in a similar situation. It will discourage new business from coming in if they can't depend on fair treatment from the city.
That brings us to the Lakeport Landing situation on Elm Street. After 30 years of leasing and doing business at their location, they were made aware of a situation where the city would not continue leasing. This company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars by erecting a huge showroom visible from the Union Avenue frontage, employing people, paying for the lease and also paying taxes on the building. They were notified last November and have been trying to resolve this situation ever since. Through delay after delay, we are now coming into June and under this new plan of going out to bid, more delay will bring us into at best July. The option is up at end of October. Not much time to save their business and relocate much of their business. They would like to resolve this and continue doing business in their present location.
After many meetings with lawyers for the city and lawyers for the Lakeport Landing owners, it has been agreed that it is possible and legal for the city to sell the property to them. This land has now been declared surplus property and the Lakeport Landing owners have made an offer for the property at the present assessed value of $331,400. A new assessment just made puts the value at $480,000.
It is not as if exceptions and deals haven't been done before. The city sold the old police station to Binnie Media for $l as it would be put back on city tax rolls and also had a stipulation they had to spend $400,000 on renovations.
We also gave them five parking spaces from the City Hall parking lot.
Lakeport Landing is willing to meet any stipulations by the city.
The city will be doing the fair thing, the right thing in making it possible for this company to stay in business as it has for 30 years. It will show the community that we can be human and are building confidence and good will in the business community. I would make a motion for the council to work out a sales agreement with Lakeport Landing.
City Councilor, Ward 4