In a surprise move, a city committee Monday night reversed course and decided to recommend not selling the land under the former Lincoln School to generate an estimated $600,000 or more that could then be used to improve James Madison Park.I've written about my opinion on this matter before, and it's good to see that serious thought and consideration was given to the issue by the committee in charge of recommendations. Their reasoning:
...supporters of the decision in the 4-1 vote said it would be wiser to wait until the real estate market improves before making any decisions. They noted the city's current lease of the land to building owner Urban Land Interests expires in 2034, at which point the building, now being used for apartment rentals, could revert back to the city.Ald. Brenda Konkel apparently even surprised herself by voting not to sell the land:
I was also kicking myself for not thinking of the rental housing as an asset to the neighborhood as it is one of the few places you can rent that is not trashed over-rented housing.For once, it would seem, testimony from the people most directly affected by a potential land sale made enough of a difference to change some minds.
And, we had heard that many of the people in the rentals would not be able to live in the new condos because they could not afford them.
Solving the budget shortfall is a serious and important issue, and one without any easy fixes. But pawning off our public lands wasn't and isn't going to do more than provide a very small and very temporary boost to that effort. I'm happy to see that cooler heads prevailed.