Garage Deal Criticized

Editor, News-Register:

In a previous letter I explained what a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is. Although not legally binding, the courts give them weight during disputes and litigation. Well, fellow citizens, here’s a review of a MOU that the City of Wheeling has put together to lease the surface parking lot across from the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building. This surface lot is needed in order to construct a parking garage for the owner(s) of the Whg.-Pitt building so it will provide parking for their 116 residential unit development. I don’t know who put the MOU together, but you can see from how it is written that it was solely written to benefit the taxpayers of our fair city (NOT).

As I read the MOU, which I have a copy of, it states that the City of Wheeling will pay the unidentified land owners of the lot a $15,000-a-month lease payment for a 30-year period. That works out to $5,400,000 over the term of the agreement. In addition to the monthly payments to the unidentified land owners, the city will give the unidentified land owners control of 4,500 square feet of retail and office space within the new parking garage, free of charge.

We’re not done; also the City of Wheeling will give the unidentified land owners control over the parking garage, and the retail and office space, and any monies generated from same. Now, bear in mind that the taxpayers of the City of Wheeling will fund the construction of the garage at a cost estimated to be in excess of $18 million, plus the monthly lease payments to the unidentified land owners of $15,000 which equals $5,400,000 over the 30-year term of the lease.

Total cost to the taxpayers: approximately $23,400,000 with zero, nada, zilch payback to the city/taxpayers on that investment. By the way, it’s my understanding that another MOU is being prepared for the out-of-state owner of the Whg.-Pitt building so he’ll renovate the building into 116 residential rental units. With the MOU I’ve just described, I can only await, with bated breath, to see the contents of that MOU. The only thing more disappointing than the poor stewardship shown by our mayor and council is the fact that the Wheeling newspapers did not ferret out the details mentioned above and expose them to the public. My hope is that this will provide an incentive for the newspaper to truly seek out the real stories behind these projects that are currently being viewed through “rose colored glasses.” I strongly encourage city taxpayers to contact their representatives and tell them to stop wasting their time and our money!!!

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs



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