Excellent reporting by Stephen Stirling:
...while many property owners remain at the table with the city and are participating in productive discussions, four members of WPIRA — Crown Container Co., Bono Sawdust and Supply Co., N&T Repairs and Shea Trucking — said the city has not been fairly negotiating.
As vote nears, city strikes new deals while others look towards eminent domain
“It’s an ongoing nightmare,” Jerry Antonacci, co-owner of Crown Container Co., said.
The four property owners said the city has put undue pressure on them to strike deals, pushing them towards deals they feel are unfair and undervalued.
“They come to us and say, ‘Prices are falling right now and I think you should jump on this while you can,’” Antonacci said. “But I’ve had appraisals done and they come in at double what the city’s offering. I’m not going to give it away for half price. But they basically said take it or leave it. They don’t even listen to what we need.”
John Bonici, of N&T Repairs Inc., said he had no contact with the city until he called them in late August. Bonici said he told the EDC he needed a property in College Point, where the majority of his customer base resides. The city told him they would get back to him.
“And then I don’t hear from them. Eleven messages I left them and they finally called me back,” Bonici said. “They said, ‘We didn’t call you because there’s nothing available.’ They said I could look for a property myself or let them offer to buy me out. So what, I have to be my own realty service now?”
While the four business owners did not rule out striking a deal with the city in the future, each said they are prepared to go to court and face an eminent domain battle if the situation does not improve.
“I’ll fight this all the way if I have to,” Bono said. “Because all they do is say what they want to say and they leave. How can you call something a negotiation if you don’t even get to hear what one party has to say?”
The city has identified those that they cannot accommodate. Instead, they isolate them by making deals with landlords and easily relocatable businesses. Those left are the folks that will be faced with eminent domain.