Whatever is finally decided on the future of Manchester’s Pearl Street parking lot (the mayor and aldermen were to address the issue at last night’s meeting), the point the Union Leader made on this page in June has been proved correct. Just ignoring city requirements and common sense by trying to sell this valuable land without going to the open marketplace was foolish, and suspicious.
City rules in fact require that when city land is deemed “surplus,’’ it must be sold at auction unless the rules are suspended. Two aldermen, at-large member Joe Kelly Levasseur and Ward 9’s Barbara Shaw, voted to do so. They should now be wiping the egg off their faces.
Failing that, they might explain to voters why they were willing to sell the property for $900,000 to a company that wishes to build multi-story student housing on the site, when two more companies have now come forward with similar plans. But at least one of those offers is $300,000 more than the one Levasseur and Shaw were happy to grab.
Manchester is a geographically small city. Property owned or controlled by the city should always go to the best use and best price and take the views of the public into consideration. The Pearl Street lot, sandwiched between Chestnut, Bridge and Elm, is just such a property.