Deal Bad for Taxpayers

Editor, News-Register:

Oh, where do I start? Mayor Elliott and our city council are still determined to justify the purchase of Frank Calabrese’s “nightmare” property at 19th and Jacob. This would be funny — except it is not that funny.

First, the mayor tells us (taxpayers) that Calabrese made a “very bad investment” for that property. So, does that mean taxpayers should not complain if Calabrese gets as big payout when he sells? Since the property is appraised at $48,000, he will get $327,000 in profit at the sale. I’d say Frank C made a great investment.

Then the good mayor says, “Even if remediation costs the city some money …” Translation: “even if cleanup costs the taxpayers lots of money…”

Elliott is so free with our money. The $2 a week tax on everyone working in Wheeling is there to pay, in part, that huge payout to Calabrese.

So far, Calabrese is slated to get $150,000 for 19th Street property, another $195,000 if a federal grant is approved, and here is the best part: Frank gets $30,000 for moving expenses. Wow! When I bought my house, I don’t remember having to pay moving expenses for the owner. That property was appraised at $48,000. Why would city council be so determined to give Calabrese that much?

The mayor said in the Jan. 22 Intelligencer that the property “…has value to us that it doesn’t have to the private sector.” Bingo!! The reason that property has no value to the private sector is that it has no value. It is a massive money drain. Just taking down the buildings will be so over the top. I wonder if city council will hire Frank Calabrese’s company to remove building debris. I’ll bet they do.

Mayoral candidate Chris Hamm came to the last council meeting, warning that this property might very well be a health hazard to fire and police personnel housed there. He also said, “…look somewhere else.” In fact, there are other sites close to 19th and Jacob that fit the requirements and are located in the same general area.

Is it just me that wonders what benefits council members get out of this “nightmare” purchase? Why do they continue to justify a very, very bad deal that benefits only Calabrese — not taxpayers?

At the meeting, Elliott said: “We know there’s bad stuff there,” referring to Calabrese’s property. Why would city council continue to move forward with purchase of property with “bad stuff there”?

Imagine several (10-15) years in the future, when people housed in the new safety building begin to have health issues. It won’t be Calabrese who pays for lawsuits and it won’t be this city council. It will be taxpayers. It is not too much of a stretch to think that if, in fact, that happens, it follows that the property would have to be abandoned.

It is a very real possibility.

When you vote in the next city and county elections, throw them out!

Helen Potter



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