Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan is recommending that the city sell the Greenman Senior Center.
It hasn't been used since 2011, when the 40 year-old heating and cooling system collapsed. Estimates range from $180,000 to $250,000 to make repairs. Ryan says combining that price tag with the reality that only about 30 seniors used the center, and he says the city can't justify keeping it open. Opportunities for Broome has proposed buying the Greenman Center for $75,000. It wants to turn it into a commercial kitchen training center. Several other programs would also be housed here, including the Binghamton Home Ownership Academy.
Mayor Ryan says the city put out a request for proposal and only OFB responded. "I think it's a real good program and I don't think anyone else is interested in it. My job as mayor is to make sure that we don't have another vacant property that gets vandalized. We have a really good program to put in there and someone who would be a good compliment to the Pine Street area and the whole area which is making a comeback."
Republican City Councilman, Chris Papastrat, says he's not convinced that selling the property to OFB is the best idea right now. He wants to see it more aggressively marketed. Papastrat says, "I think the taxpayers should get a fair shake by advertising, at least regionally, to see if there is interest from a private developer who could buy the building, pay the full tax on it, pay a fair assessed market value and possibly bring some jobs."
OFB has proposed paying $3,500 a year in a payment in lieu of taxes proposal. In order for the city to sell the Greenman Center, 6 city council members would need to approve the deal. Right now, it doesn't appear enough members favor the idea.
One other note, Mayor Ryan says OFB has said it could possibly serve some meals to the community from the center. And, provide a spot where seniors could play billiards. He says that had been a sticking point.