New RTM lease guidelines could damage partnerships

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

The Representative Town Meeting will consider new leasing policy guidelines in September.

I have no problem with the RTM developing policy guidelines for any commercial activity, but these guidelines are flawed with regard to the large number of $1 leases the town has entered into.

I have a vested interest as a member and past commodore of the Mianus River Boat and Yacht Club, whose lease is now up for removal. But, as a person involved in town government for more than 50 years, I also understand the value of these leases.

These are truly public/private partnerships. The town gives unused or underused property or buildings in return for a private organization investing time and money providing things of value for residents and to enhance Greenwich’s quality of life. These partnerships include four boat and yacht clubs, the Garden Education Center, Greenwich Arts Council, American Legion, Teen Center, Byram Shubert Library, Hill House, Greenwich Adult Day Care, Abilis, Bruce Museum, McKinney Terrace and Town Hall Annex.

The vast majority of these leases are for 10 years with the right of renewal. None of these organizations went in with the thought that they would be just for the short term. They thought they would be ongoing as long as they fulfilled their original mission and abided by the terms of the lease.

The most troubling guidelines before the RTM are: Section B Paragraph 8: “Prior tenant improvements should not be included in such calculations” when considering a lease renewal, and Section C Paragraphs 3 and 4 on town advertising and looking for competitive prices when someone approaches the town for the use of town property.

Why would any local organization want to start up with conditions like that? Should organizations be willing to commit money and thousands of hours of unpaid time to create valuable town resources at no cost to the town if they faced an uncertain fate when their lease renewals came up?

The town has used dollar leases for more than 70 years with excellent results. Why change now when there has been nothing but positive results?

 

Frank Mazza
Greenwich

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