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Harbor Ill Will

by on December 12, 2012

You may have noticed if you’ve observed the world at any point between the dawn of time and now that those working on the public’s behalf aren’t quite good at managing assets. And why would they be? It’s not their property, so they have no interest in preventing spoiling. You stop mowing the lawn when you realize the neighbors won’t judge you personally.

The eternal trend of rewarding collective property’s unimpressive stewards will continue. You can buy what should be a prime slice of Buffalo land for the cost of a medium Tim Hortons coffee but not a dozen donuts if you happen to be a woefully inefficient government agency. For one congressman, it’s all about the Jeffersons, or rather, a single Jefferson:

One lawmaker is looking to take another step towards Waterfront development, by helping push along the transfer of a prime chunk of real estate at a bargain basement price.

Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on the NFTA to transfer its land on the Outer Harbor for just two dollars.

The real estate is criminally underdeveloped and also owned by the government in a Powerball-winning level of completely random coincidence. It would be much better to let an entirely different bureaucratic entity run the ground into the ground:

Right now the NFTA owns much of the Outer Harbor. Higgins is pushing the NFTA to sell its 384 acres to the Erie Canal Development Corporation.

Higgins is arguing that the corporation should take over the land because “they’re effectiveness is very very clear at Canal Side, which went from an area that had almost no visitors to almost half a million this year.”

Life is easy when your benchmark is zero. Speaking of low standards, the suggested two-buck sale price reflects the financial acumen of someone whose version of helping the economy was embodied by voting to waste nearly a trillion dollars to increase unemployment. You can never, ever sell something for more than which you paid, as it’s unfair and would also of course mean the world would run out of money:

Higgins hopes the Outer Harbor can become a prime piece of property in Buffalo.

However, he says it should be sold for cheap because “the NFTA paid two dollars for it and therefore should sell it for no more than two dollars.”

Higgins also accuses the NFTA of neglecting the Outer Harbor, leaving three of its four buildings empty — and then trying to profit off of land that needs $30 million in repairs.

Repairing something that’s mostly dirt? Leave it to the NFTA to need so much money to fix so little. The group that let the desirable property languish is deeply offended that anyone noticed the shoddy job they did:

In a statement, the NFTA fire back, saying it plans to get rid of the property.

Chairman Howard Zemsky says “since acquiring the Boat Harbor property the NFTA has invested approximately seven million dollars of infrastructure and improvements. The NFTA has never insisted on recovering our full investment costs.”

Zemsky adds it is too early to decide who the land should go to.

The City of Buffalo has shown interest as well.

The most adult response possible to questions about which which municipality or agency would get to run it is “Who the [swear] cares?” The discussion should be about which person or company should be allowed to turn the desolate parcel into something useful. But Democrats can’t stand for some private owner who would probably just want to frack for pollution and shoot trespassers. It’s far better to let a different governmental section properly manage uselessness.

If Higgins seems like he’s oblivious to how business works because he got a degree in political science before spending his adult life in elected office, it’s because that’s what he’s done. While never running a business is one thing, not respecting business is problem.

For someone who tries to play a moderate, it’s odd that he invariably votes how Nancy Pelosi wants. Back at home, the sadly predictable Higgins will blather about which dully incompetent agency should get to preside over continued nothingness.

Higgins could suggest auctioning the property to gain both development and revenue while relieving the present owners of a burden they obviously can’t handle. Instead, he’ll tacitly proclaim that an area of his district is almost worthless. Asking for a third dollar would be greedy.

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