EDITORIAL: Government too slow to bank on donation

2012-11-12T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Government too slow to bank on donation nwitimes.com
November 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Among Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson's ideas for the city is to move scattered city departments to the downtown for residents' convenience. Gary Community School Corp. is a different entity, but it would be good to have the district's headquarters downtown as well.

The offer of the former Gary National Bank building, 504 Broadway, to the school district sounds like it might have been a good offer, but it fell through.

EFN Gary Property LLC offered in late October to donate the 10-story building and 350-car parking garage to the school district. The company is owned by Edward Napleton, who also owns Napleton Automotive Group, based in Westmont, Ill.

Gary school officials said they planned to relocate to the building, and lease unused space to tenants. The deal fell through, however.

This is a lesson in the speed at which government works vs. the speed of business.

What could well have been a good offer — bringing more of Gary's scattered units of government to the downtown —fell through for lack of a building inspection.

Because the district didn't close on the building in time, the donor is pursuing other options for donating the building.

Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the district had planned a cost analysis to compare the cost of moving to the donated bank building versus addressing the roof and boiler problems at the district's existing headquarters.

It appears to be too late to accept the offer of the donated building, but that shouldn't stop the school district from looking for other low-cost ways to bring its headquarters downtown.

Freeman Wilson and her New Day Task Force were right about the value of moving government offices downtown. Residents' convenience needs to be considered, as does the free flow of ideas that could be facilitated by proximity to other units of local government.

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