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Stuck in Park

The Troy Democrats just can’t come together on the sale of garage

by Elizabeth Knapp on February 24, 2010

After months of deliberation, the Troy City Council made no progress in the proposed sale of the Uncle Sam parking garage, deadlocking Tuesday night in a 4-4 vote, with one abstention.

The sale of the garage to Troy developer David Bryce at $2.15 million has raised concerns among Democratic council president Clement Campana, and councilmen Kevin McGrath, Gary Galuski, and Michael LoPorto—all of whom opposed the sale of city property that is a source of revenue. “Purely from a business aspect,” said Campana, “I’m not in favor.”

Republican councilmen Mark McGrath and Dean Bodnar stand on the other side of this issue, with Democratic councilmen Bill Dunne and John Brown.

Democratic Councilman Ken Zalewski wasn’t sold. He wanted to make sure all bases were covered either way, and after many attempts to delay the vote, he abstained.

“I think [Zalewski] tries to analyze too much,” said McGrath. “I would have preferred if he made a decision one way or the other—that’s what we’re elected to do. But I sympathized with him, because I thought he was being bullied.”

What was more unexpected was a comment made by LoPorto, after Bryce claimed he’d have to leave Troy for more promising alternatives.

“Good, pack up and leave,” said LoPorto.

“That was the most insulting thing I have ever seen as councilman,” said McGrath. “I was shocked to hear that. What he just did was send a message to any developer that wants to come to Troy, saying, ‘No, don’t come here.’ I was shocked and embarrassed.”

Since the city was planning to use the proceeds towards the development of the waterfront, Dunne said that he believes the sale of the parking garage would have served as a reinvestment in the community. “One way or another, the money has to come from somewhere,” said Dunne of the money needed for the waterfront redevelopment.

Those in favor of selling the parking garage believe it is a structure that the city of Troy can not maintain on its own. “We are traditionally terrible property owners,” said Brown. The deteriorating state of the more than 25-year-old structure “could eventually be a liability.”

The city now has to find another way to raise the funds needed to secure the $6 million state grant for the riverfront redevelopment, either by using the “rainy day funds” or by bonding.

“Either way, it’s going to be a cost to the taxpayers,” said McGrath. “And I’m sick over it. We had an opportunity to move forward, and we failed to do so.”