By Mayor Edward M. O’Brien
As I have been out speaking with residents these past few weeks, I have come across a common concern that I feel the need to address. Many of you have told me that you are puzzled by the decision to sell Thompson School to the Housing Authority for $10.
I absolutely understand our residents’ concern with this at first glance, but there is much more to this deal than that. The building needed massive upgrades which private developers were not interested in. The Housing Authority is willing to do these upgrades as well as pay $80,000 a year in property taxes (when they usually pay none) and will be giving preference to the disabled and military veterans.
To elaborate further, the city goes out to a competitive bidding process every single time we sell property. Thompson School was no exception. As a matter of fact, we went out to bid on Thompson School several times. No developers were interested in the property. The one developer which showed some interest pulled out when they realized the massive amount of work that needed to go into the property.
The Thompson School property needs massive upgrades. It is an old building that would need a lot of code upgrades to bring it into compliance for any use, as well as a substantial environmental work. There is a reason we stopped using it to teach our children. The fact that the property needs such immense work, combined with the fact that it is in a mostly residential neighborhood, meant private developers were not interested in it for commercial or residential use.
This is where the Housing Authority came in. The Housing Authority came to us with a proposal to renovate Thompson School which would bring it up to code and fix the property’s environmental issues. However, these plans were going to cost at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why we came to the deal to sell the property at the minimal price.
As I mentioned earlier, as part of this deal the Housing Authority also agreed to pay $80,000 per year in property taxes when they normally do not pay any taxes because they are a federal agency. The other key part of this deal is that the Housing Authority will be giving preference to the disabled and military veterans when reviewing applications for this property.
This deal is good for everyone. The city no longer has to pay to maintain a dilapidated property and will be receiving $80,000 per year in property taxes as opposed to nothing. The residents of that neighborhood will see the property upgraded and the disabled or those who have served our country will get help they desperately need.
The Housing Authority is able to afford to upgrade the building, pay the city $80,000 per year, and provide critical services to residents in need due to the low initial sale price.
In 10 years, the city will have made $800,000 on the property and individuals who need help will have gotten it. This sounds like a good deal for West Haven to me.