It was an exercise worth doing, but no one should be surprised to learn New London does not have ample land to sell to help balance its books. In fact, it appears the city will not be selling any land, anytime soon.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio's administration undertook the inventory of all city-owned property in response to budgetary pressures. With its fund balance nearly exhausted, revenues falling short of projections and spending in some departments exceeding their budgetary allocations, the mayor rightly saw the need to consider all options.
If the city could sell, to a private party, parcels that were not serving a good public purpose, generating business activity and putting land on the tax roll in the process, then a property sale might make sense. But the inventory found that there is a reason the city owns 121 properties within its borders. These properties are parks, municipal buildings, parking lots and schools. Meanwhile, a few small, vacant parcels would generate no private interest because nothing can be developed on them.
As for vacant parcels land that are appropriate for sale and private development, the city had already identified those, but has been unsuccessful in its marketing efforts.
In other words, there were no big surprises.
We are glad to hear Jane Glover, the city's chief administrative officer, say the city has no interest in selling the Water Street Parking Garage. The garage is critical to downtown revitalization efforts and giving a private party control of the parking fees assessed there, as well as its upkeep, would not be a worthwhile trade for one-shot revenue. Propark America operates the garage under a lease agreement with the city, an arrangement that appears to work well.
Critical will be how the administration handles the future sale of the Harbor School on Montauk Avenue. Because of new school construction in the city, it is expected to be on the market as soon as next year. The successful sale and development of that property in a manner that complements the surrounding neighborhood should be the administration's goal.