The city is once again considering whether to buy Meadow Street property behind City Hall that could be used for parking or future expansion.
Though it appears unlikely the city will agree to purchase the property from the Lepore property, the Real Estate Committee recently urged councilors to consider it.
“I still oppose it, but this is a democracy,” said city Councilor Frank Nicastro, who heads the real estate panel.
The Lepore family asked the city to reconsider its opposition to the purchase and Nicastro’s committee agreed to let the council debate the issue.
City councilors agreed in 2004 to pay $309,900 for the 73-75 Meadow St. property, which could provide room for about 23 parking spaces behind City Hall.
But the Board of Finance gunned down the plan when it learned the city would have spend another $150,000 or more to demolish the buildings and construct the lot.
Twice since then, the council has taken up the proposal again, each time rejecting the proposed purchase, the last time on a unanimous 2007 vote.
However, before turning it aside, the council had another vote in which it asked then-Mayor William Stortz to try to negotiate a better deal with the Lepores. Backers said the city may need the property someday.
They argued the city is short of parking,, storage and office space for its workforce.
Nicastro said that the possible closure of the courthouse, located above the police department next door to City Hall, would free up a lot of space the city could use more easily.
Nicastro, who also serves as a state representative, said he hopes to keep the courthouse open as part of the next state budget, but acknowledged the effort could fall short.
The council will likely take up the issue at its September 8 meeting.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org