NORTH ADAMS --The release of two bid requests for the sale of city-owned land in Pownal and Stamford, Vt. prior to the approval of the City Council was the result of "an internal miscommunication," according to Mayor Richard J. Alcombright.
The city issued two Requests for Proposals (RFP) for 215 acres in Pownal and for three parcels, comprising 351 acres, in Stamford at the end of July. The proposals, which appeared in the state Central Register on July 31, were to be opened on Aug. 30. However, the parcels did not go before the City Council for approval until Aug. 13. Councilors approved the sale of the Stamford parcels and some 67 acres along West Shaft Road in the city, but voted 6 to 2 against the sale of the Pownal parcel -- one of the remaining pieces of the former Broad Brook watershed property.
Councilor John Barrett III questioned why the properties had been listed prior to being brought before the council during last week's meeting.
"I think what really bothers me about this is that it was published in July," he said during the council's Aug. 27 meeting.
Alcombright promised to respond to his request for information via email and issued a letter to councilors on Tuesday, outlining that the proposals, which had been internally discussed for over a year, had been issued in error and that the Pownal RFP had been removed from the Central Register on Aug. 14. An RFP for the 67 acres in the city is still being drafted, he said.
"We've been talking about this for nearly two years. I think I was, for lack of a better term, barking at people to get these RFPs done," the mayor said Thursday. "I was going in to Laura [Wood] and Ross [Vivori] and telling them we had to get these out. They did. Then we realized we needed to bring the land before council for approval. It was more of an internal miscommunication that anything. There was no malintent. It was an internal faux pas."
Barrett contends the Pownal parcel remained active on the Central Register until the RFP expired at the end of August.
"The only issue here is that the RFPs were issued in error prior to the Council vote," Alcombright said. "Even if there had been a bid on the Pownal land, the city would have had to refuse it. The Stamford RFP was good for 30 days. We did not receive any bids for that land. At the end of the day, this is a ‘no harm, no foul' situation -- lesson learned."
He said a group recently contacted Administrative Officer Michael Canales about two of the three parcels in Stamford, all of which are landlocked.
Barrett said Thursday that regardless of whether or not any bids were received for either RFP, he still takes issue with both being issued prior to the council vote.
"I'm just asking questions about what is going on. I guess he's not as big as a control freak as I was," he said. "I'm concerned about things not being done right. There's a lot of inaccuracies that I see."
Barrett is still a proponent of holding on to all of the parcels and investigating the potential benefit of selling the logging rights until the real estate market rebounds.