SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A slipup caught on camera may jeopardize negotiations as the city attempts to purchase a parcel of land in Sugarhouse for a proposed new police precinct.
On Tuesday, Salt Lake City Neighborhoods Director Mike Reberg let it slip during a City Council work session and now the cat is out of the bag that the city is interested in a 1.8 acre property just east of the intersection of 2100 South and 2100 East.
Cities never disclose possible purchases for fear their interest will cause the owner to jack up the asking price. On Tuesday, the Council had just voted to use $212,000 in impact fees toward the purchase when Reberg had a follow up question with the mic still open and the camera still recording.
“With your passage of that motion is that an indication that you want us to move forward with pursuing the property on 21st and 21st?” Reberg is heard asking Council Chairwoman Erin Mendenhall. Mendenhall’s face showed complete shock at the gaffe.
“With that we’re going to adjourn the meeting,” Mendenhall said.
On Wednesday, Chairwoman Mendenhall said that the 2100 South property is not the City’s only option and called Reberg’s slip an “inadvertent disclosure”.
“We’re all human, mistakes are made. We saw a mistake made yesterday,” Chairman Mendenhall told ABC4 News. “It doesn’t tie our hands like I said to this property in particular and we could be looking at many properties.”
On Wednesday, ABC4 sat down with the owner of the property, 91 year old Richard Clissold who says he won’t raise his price based on this revelation.
“If the City wants the property and they have the power of eminent domain I’m not going to argue with them,” Clissold said. “I’m certainly not going to go to court with them. I will sell it to them.”
Clissold added he also has other cash offers for the property, which he currently rents out to several businesses including a barber shop and a media services company.
“I am concerned of the extent of the early release of this before anything official will affect my tenants,” Clissold said. “I don’t want them moving out if the City changes their mind.
Salt Lake City spokesman Matthew Rojas says that this is just is just one of a number of sites that the city is considering for the precinct and it may – or may not work out for any number of reasons.