By Josh LaBella
The City Council voted to approve a new lease for the Child Development Center in its meeting on Monday night. After Mayor Nancy Rossi signs the agreement, it will put an ordeal to bed, which has been going on for more than a year.
The one-year lease agreement calls for a yearly rental of $21,000, with the development center paying in installments of $1,750 a month. The city will continue to pay for utilities. During the meeting, several city council members lobbied to extend the lease to two or three years.
The Child Development Center is a nonprofit program, which teaches approximately 186 young students a year. The program has been run by Dr. Patrice Farquharson for 40 years. The center has been paying $9,000 a year for rent due to an agreement from around the same time Farquharson started there.
Mayor Rossi has previously stated in an interview that she had Corporation Counsel Lee Tiernan terminate the lease in order to open negotiation with the center. She said with the city in financial dire straits they needed to “look at all programs.”
“Is the $21,000 market value?” said Rossi. “No. But, instead of going from $9,000 to $50,000 we are going to go in increments.”
Rossi pointed out that the Community House, a social service agency for children and families in West Haven, pays $18,000 to rent three classrooms in Molloy School. She also addressed claims that the city had showed the building the center is using to developers by saying doing so is within their right as the owner of the property.
In the meeting, Tiernan said city officials showed the property to “at least one gentleman” because they wanted to have a “plan B” if the lease negotiations fell through.
Councilman Aaron Charney made a motion to extend the proposed lease for three years instead of one. He said in doing so they could give the families whose students attend the school peace of mind – a sentiment that several other council members shared.
Tiernan pointed out that, in a three-year lease, the total value would be over $50,000. He said that would result in the Municipal Accountability Review Board having greater discretion to look into and approve the agreement – adding the lease agreement he built “would not be subject to review” by the MARB.
Tiernan said the entire contract was built for the one-year lease and if the council wanted to extend it, all other areas of the contract would need to be renegotiated. He also said he wanted to keep the lease in one-year increments in order to be able to adjust for shifts in utility costs.
The end result was the council voting to amend the agreement so that the mayor could re-sign it without coming back to them during the review period in November. After being signed by Mayor Rossi, the new lease will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Correction (October 3, 2019):
In this story last week concerning the renegotiation of the Child Development Center lease, it was stated Mayor Rossi ordered the termination of the lease. She ordered the renegotiation of the lease. The Voice regrets the error.