In answer to Pierro's question, Council president Don Moore explained that the Dunn building was "working on two tracks." He said that two parties have expressed interest in purchasing the building but gave no information about who the parties might be. He also spoke of a grant from the Department of State, awarded, if memory serves, back in 2008, to evaluate the building and assess "what it would take to rehab it and prepare it for public or private use."
Although the 1996 vision for the waterfront imagined a row of commercial buildings along the east side of Water Street, with the former Dunn's warehouse anchoring the south end of the lineup, and Mayor William Hallenbeck is alleged to have proposed that the waterfront, presumably including the Dunn building, would make a great outlet mall, several members of the Council seem to be questioning the wisdom of encouraging dense commercial development at the waterfront.
The self-appointed fiscal conscience of the Council, Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) reminded her colleagues that the sale of the two properties had been written into the budget as anticipated revenue. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) suggested that, since the year is already half over, "we need to work on plugging that hole some other way," which prompted Haddad to ask if the money from the recent auction of foreclosed properties might "plug the hole."
Answering the question, city treasurer Eileen Halloran explained that the money from the auction--$425,000--goes into the general fund. Because the City collects taxes for the county and the school district, part of the income from the auction was recouping monies already apportioned, but the amount represented by unpaid city taxes and all of the amount over and above the sum of the unpaid taxes--$85,551--could go toward filling the 2013 budget gap, since the proceeds of the auction had not been written into the budget as anticipated income. She also stated that the City had "a decent fund balance, and we can fall back on that."
The Council was thus assured that the City would not grind to a halt if the Dunn's warehouse was not sold in the next 188 days. Still, Pierro declared, "That parkin' lot should go," referring to the vacant lot at State and Fourth streets, and Stewart concurred.
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