Friday, March 03, 2006

An Arresting Development



It looks like the city is taking another step in the process of selling the old police station located on Bedford Street near the Government Center and this time it's a step back to square one.

Several months ago the city started the process to sell of two city owned properties, a parcel of land on South Main Street near the Tiverton line and the former police station vacated over a decade ago.

In the past it was the city's policy to sell municipal owned properties through an open bid process awarding the sale to the highest bidder. However, the city recently stated that instead of awarding the sale to the highest bidder the property would instead go to the bidder and proposal that best matched the city's intended use for the land as spelled out in the RFP (Request for Proposal) as allowed by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 30B.

The process has made it as far as the City Council Real Estate Committee where the bids were reviewed on both properties. In both cases the committee voted 2 to 1 to except the lower bid. The committee’s vote has angered City Councilor Joseph Camara, who does not sit on the Real Estate Committee, but has been very vocal that the city should continue to award property to the highest bidder and should do so now.

To complicate matters further the mayor is now considering asking the City Council to restart the bid process on the former police station because both submitted bids were below the assessed value. According to Director of Municipal Services, James Smith, the city should have established minimum bids with appraisals on the RFP as stated in Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 30B.

If the city were to restart the process it would also reword the RFP to ensure the bid proposal was binding, something that may not be the case with the way the RFP's are currently written.
Despite the objections of City Councilor Camara and some obvious mistakes along the way I have to say that I like city's new stance on selling off city owned property. Too often in the past we have sold our futures for the promise of a quick buck, now it is time to realize that less now could indeed mean more later.

Southcoast out of Commission

You have to wonder if anyone up at the State House has any clue where Fall River, New Bedford, Westport and the other cities and towns that make up this region are

The state has established a new Coastal Hazards Management Commission, which is supposed to identify the problems and needs of our coastal areas and set up guidelines and long term strategies.

Amazingly, this commission does not include one single representative from southeastern Massachusetts, this despite the several southeastern cities and towns having expansive coastlines.

The Herald News quoted a spokesperson for Executive Office of Environmental affairs who claims it would have been tough to get a representative from each city and town but considering the importance of this area's coastlines: Fall River is of the state's deep water ports, New Bedford's economy is still strong tied to the coast, both in fishing and in its whaling history, and of course the mention of Westport instantly brings to mind Horseneck Beach.
It's a given that each and every coastal city and town can't have a representative but to ignore a whole region that's just inexcusable.