Let me get this straight:
The city agreed to change the zoning on a piece of property for a company that didn’t yet own it. Then the city declared that company the preferred bidder without telling anyone who bid on the project it was going to build a new access road. Now the city wants to grant that same company a license to do work on the site, and presumably start working the site for a profit, by paying a $100,000 down payment with the $900,000 balance paid in five years or whenever the state Legislature gets around to approving the sale.
A few things come to mind:
-Were the other three companies allowed to make a down payment and start turning a profit? Was it part of the initial RFP the city sent out? It should have been because any company would rather keep $900,000 in the bank than shell it out so if it is offered to Valente it should have been extended to all bidders because it certainly would have changed their respective bid parameters.
-Why isn’t this just a straight sale? You send out the RFP, you get bids, you pick the best one, offer whatever financial assistance you can through PILOT programs and whatnot and let the purchaser run with it. The purpose of an RFP is to offer everyone an equal opportunity and avoid political favoritism and/or underhanded deals.
-Again, if the city is planning to invest in a new road why wasn’t it included in the initial RFP so the bidders could incorporate that into their respective proposals. In a letter, one of the other bidders, a conglomerate that includes Warren Fane Inc., say they didn’t know anything about the road. Valente’s attorney, in a letter, said they didn’t either. I find it hard to believe the inclusion of a new road wouldn’t change the bids around a bit and both sides have indicated they will sue should the Council vote to sell or not sell.
-How much is the road worth. First it was $4.4 million in federal money but now it’s in excess of $5 million and the city is bonding for it. Now I'm told the $5 million is in addition to the $4.4 million so the road is worth $9 million-plus. The road is not a bad thing in that it will keep truck traffic off South Troy streets but if it benefits the project it should have been included in the RFP specs.
-If approval of the state Legislature can take up to five years why isn’t the city on it already? Why hasn’t Assemblyman John McDonald or Sen. Neil Breslin taken up a bill and put it out there for debate? It’s essentially a home rule message so outside any opposition from environmentalists I don’t see why the majority of New York state should care. The city certainly didn’t waste any time changing the zoning around.
-According to the ordinance, the city is expecting to take land just north of the Scolite property, currently owned by Ludlow Valve, and give it to Valente. Was that included in the initial RFP and were the other three companies privy to that information. If not, it should have.
-What does it mean when it says the city is offering Valente a license? According to state law a municipality can grant a license to a business to: Maintain order, enforce the laws, protect property and preserve and care for the safety, health, comfort and general welfare of the inhabitants of the city and visitors thereto; and for any of said purposes to regulate and license occupations and businesses.” I’m told it applies to things like tattoo parlors and junkyards, not docking stations.
-Why won’t the city put the other three bids on its website so the public can get a look at them?
-The ordinance does not specifically spell out what Valente will be bringing into the South Troy site or shipping out of it. It does say he must adhere to any and all laws regarding whatever commodities he does transport, including garbage.