Senior Center Questions Swirl
The tax abatement issue arose when the council was asked earlier this year to approve an ordinance to permit negotiations on a five-year break on taxes for buyers of the 63 condos on three floors above the senior center. Although the proposal was a preliminary measure and any agreement would have to come back for council approval, the terms were discussed publicly as a 40 percent abatement, meaning buyers would pay only 40 percent of taxes for five years.
Normally, such agreements would be negotiated in advance of construction, but the abatement plan was touted by politicians as necessary to prevent the nearly-completed complex known as "The Monarch" from becoming rentals instead of condos over the senior center.
As far as the legal status of the complex, Mapp and city Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson sparred over whether agreements on transfer of city-owned land to the the Union County Improvement Authority were properly executed, with Williamson declaring, "After all is said and done, the transfer was absolutely, positively legal" and Mapp still demanding proof. Mapp's demands for verification drew applause from seniors in the audience.
Meanwhile, senior center member George Smith said most of the furnishings of the current center in leased space at 305 East Front Street have been moved to the new building at 400 East Front Street, but no final moving day has been set. At the same time, the owner of the building now housing the center is trying to get a tenant for the space, he said.
City Administrator Marc Dashield said the certificate of occupancy for the new center was issued about a week ago, and that the city was now working with the developer to come up with a "transition date."