Ice house – the offer as presented to City Council

During last night’s city council meeting, Councilman Tom Phillips asked for an update on the status of the Colonial Ice House.  After a general update, City Manager Mitch Johnson asked Engineering/Inspections Director Butch Simmons to explain the recently submitted offer for the property.  Simmons’ answer was simple and misleading by omission.  He chose to dumb-down the complexities of the offer, outlined here, to language and concepts that were suitable for what he must consider to be the simple minds of our elected officials… (not verbatim, but close)…

“First, the offer is not just for the Market Street property but also for the parking lot facing Friendly.  The offer is for $300,000 but we would be required to put that $300,000 back in to fix his building.  After the building is renovated, we would be required to lease it for five years.”

Audible laughter arose from the audience prompting the mayor to ask, “You’re kidding, aren’t you?“.  To which Simmons replied, “No sir“.  Then manager Johnson chimed in with, “That’s why we haven’t brought the offer to you.” (meaning the Council) 

Hell, with such a simplified and biased explanation - an explanation obviously aimed at a 10 year-old’s mentality - I’d have laughed at it, too.  But knowing what I know about the history of our ownership, the condition of the property, and the complex details found in the offer to purchase, the only thing last night’s exchange accomplished was to chap my ass.

An aside: For the record, as of my Sept. 6 meeting with Johnson and Simmons at the site, Mitch had not been apprised of the offer.  Simmons explained it to the manager for the first time – in the same simplistic terms – while the three of us were meeting.  Upon hearing Simmons’ explanation, Mitch’s reaction was similar to the Mayor’s.

Another aside:  Proving there can be humor in tragedy: The best line of the night came from Councilman Phillips when he asked, tongue-in-cheek, to no one in particular, “Will we run afoul of the city’s tree ordinance when we remove the tree that is growing through the Ice House?”

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  1. [...] The potential buyer then went on to outline the rough parameters of his not-so-uncommon ”lease buy back” proposal that got laughed at during Tuesday night’s council meeting.  The council member in the room, however, was not laughing and gave the proposal due and serious consideration as the sincerity and possibilities contained in the offer were recognized. [...]