Garage Options Cited

Editor, News-Register:

Proposed parking garage –other alternatives! I guess I need to “clear the air” before getting into the meat of this letter. Let me state without reservation, I do not have any animosity, or think that the two lawyers that own the property the city wishes to lease to build a garage on, are doing anything that anyone else wouldn’t do in their place.

Both of these individuals are investors and businessman who happen to be attorneys. If someone was willing to offer me such a financial windfall, you can bet your life I would execute an agreement in a “New York” minute. At this point in time, the mayor and city council have not wavered in their desire to construct a parking garage for the benefit of the owner(s) of the old Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building. So be it!!

Let me take another approach in trying to protect the taxpayer’s pocketbook, and keep our city free of long-term encumbrances. I recently (Jan. 31) sent an email to the mayor and members of city council, suggesting what I believe to be a viable alternative to the city’s financial involvement in the land lease, and subsequent financial involvement in the private (for-profit) renovations of the WPS building. Here’s the suggestion presented to the mayor and council:

First, stop all further negotiations with the land owners to lease their property. Second, inform the out-of-state developer that he is responsible for negotiating and executing a lease, with the land owners for the land for the proposed garage (no $15,000 a month obligation for the city taxpayers). Third, negotiate and execute a memorandum of understanding with the WPS building owners, committing the City of Wheeling to the construction of a parking garage if they lease the land for the garage; and sign an agreement, including a “performance bond,” that the renovations of the WPS building into residential rental units will proceed and be completed upon a specific date.

Fourth, as part of the MOU with the WPS building owners, guarantee them a sufficient number of parking spaces at 50 percent off, per space, for the use of their tenants. Fifth, lease the proposed 4,500 square feet of retail and office space to a local real estate agent at a negotiated square foot price, and let that real estate agent sub-lease and manage the property to earn a profit. Use the proceeds from the 4,500 sq. ft. yearly lease payment for garage maintenance and other expenses.

Sixth, city council should hire a law firm that has the expertise to negotiate and put together the language needed to protect the taxpayers in this matter.

Subsequent to putting this letter together, I was contacted by an individual that made me aware of another sensible alternate. That is, approach the federal government and see if they would like to do a joint venture to construct a parking garage to serve the federal courthouse as well as the old Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building. It would entail acquiring the three buildings on Market Street immediately north of the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building. Thus the garage could be attached to the federal courthouse as well as the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building.

It seems to me that the city could acquire and demolish the three buildings north of the WPS building a lot cheaper than leasing land for 30 years at a cost of $5.4 million dollars.

I’ll leave you with this quote: “Whether you actually can or can’t fight City Hall is of little relevance. Either way, when the need arises, you must.” – Derek Audette.

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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