Letters to the Editor

Not so fast on purchasing DOT buildings

To the editor:

I respectfully request public comment on the bid by the City of Fairfield to acquire the recently abandoned Department of Transportation buildings in Fairfield. I am aware of these facts, as my real estate development company did extensive research on the value of the buildings.

Unfortunately, the City decided at a “closed” meeting (without the opportunity for public comment or input) to aggressively bid at the public auction held on June 18, 2020.

Many interested parties invested their time to think of creative uses of the properties that would benefit the public at large. According to the Jefferson County assessor’s office the brick structures were assessed at over $600,000.

These buildings are in remarkable condition, with handicap accessibility, state of the art lighting, central heating and cooling and other top-quality features. The City intends to tear down much of the structures in order to build a new fire station.

I consider it a tragedy to do that for a number of reasons. These include the loss of the west building (which they intend to tear down completely). This structure is ideally laid out for a senior housing community. Senior housing is specifically permitted in the B1 zone of this property, and is a significant need of our community. There is also an ideal location for a child care facility in the East property, which has a separate entrance, private bathrooms, an elevator and handicap accessibility. Day care in the downtown is desperately needed right now.

Not only must the City pay the $235,000 they bid on the property, but they must also pay for the demolition of this high value real estate. They will then need to pay for the very expensive construction of the new fire station. It remains to be seen what they intend to do with the old fire station, or what utility it might have.

Complicating the matter is that there are huge tracts of empty lots for sale in areas around town, including the commercial area of West Kirkwood which could be purchased inexpensively.

Further, at a time when the economy is in desperate straits, property tax revenues for the City can be expected to decline. Not only will the taxpayer have to pay for this project, with interest, but the City will lose very significant property taxes that would have been paid to the City if the properties had been allowed to be developed in the private sector.

One thing is for sure, once the regal buildings are torn down, it will be too late to save them.

I respectfully request a reconsideration of the city’s intention for this property and a robust discussion of alternatives.

— Ed Noyes, Fairfield