Tonawanda News

Opinion

October 23, 2013

GUEST VIEW: City will benefit from Vets Park deal

Tonawanda News — Recently you published a letter written by an opponent of a proposed housing development near Veterans Park. My administration negotiated the proposed agreement for this development with Natale Builders. I sent the proposed agreement to the City of Tonawanda Common Council for its consideration and possible approval of the sale of city land to the developer. This letter provides my position on this matter as supported by the facts.

This proposal makes the most economic sense for the City of Tonawanda. Instead of the city selling bonds to borrow money for the construction of roads and the infrastructure, we sell the land to the developer and have them finance, at their own cost, the roads and infrastructure. The city has no risk in this scenario. Think of the situation we would be in if we bonded and built at city cost the entire infrastructure, assumed all the risk, and the developer walked away. The city would be left with the need to try and sell the lots, while still incurring the cost of the bonds. This cost would fall to the taxpayers. An example of how this can go wrong can be seen in Lackawanna at their Martin Road development. The city paid for all the development (close to $1 million) only to see after three years, only two lots being sold. The City of Lackawanna incurred the cost and risk, and is now paying the price. In my proposal we sell the land, the vacant land goes on the tax roll, and we have zero risk on the project.

There have been questions if the $192,000 we will be getting from the developer is a fair price, and why the value is different from some older appraisals. Note that the appraisal that was submitted in 2009, used comparable sales from 2002 and 2004, and included properties sold for the building of apartments on Union Road in West Seneca. We had a new appraisal done in 2013 and the appraisal was $90,000 if the land was bought by a developer, who would use his own money to develop as a subdivision and incur the carrying costs. We are getting over double at $192,000. The $10,000 per acre is well within what this type of sale is being appraised at in other parts of Erie and Niagara counties.

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