A bird in the hand almost always is worth two in the bush. Steubenville City Council members should keep that in mind in deciding whether to sell a piece of land to a used vehicle dealer.
City Manager Cathy Davison told council members this week that dealer Ray Livingston is interested in buying a city-owned property adjacent to his car lot. But Davison added she does not recommend going forward with the transaction "because it is part of our South End economic development land banking project."
Davison is to be commended for understanding the importance of sticking with a development plan. And she clearly understands that maintaining a large tract of land available for development can make such projects more attractive to businesses.
But Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf also has a good point. As he noted, selling the lot to Livingston would allow him to expand his business instead of allowing the lot to remain vacant in anticipation of a bigger economic development deal.
Metcalf added that sale of the lot would be contingent on Livingston complying with "certain requirements" for maintaining the land.
If Davison or other city officials have something definite and reasonably immediate in mind for the lot in question, it may be prudent to postpone or decline the deal with Livingston. But if there is nothing on the horizon, it doesn't make sense to turn down a proposal that could allow an existing business to expand and potentially add to the Steubenville economy. Council members should decide whether to sell the lot in that light.