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URA Properties Cause Deepen Rift Between Vescera, Colosimo-Testa

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

The decisions made during the bidding process for Urban Renewal Agency properties is causing a rift between the two Common Council members who sit on the Board.

Councilman Frank Vescera says choosing a winner when multiple buyers are bidding is wrong, and that the property should go to auction where it can be settled fairly.

“The way that that’s run is very subjective,” Vescera said. “People come in, they’ll put their applications in for a piece of property. [Next] they’ll come in and do a 90 second interview with the Board members and then the Board makes a decision on whether or not to give that person the property.”

Councilwoman Samantha Colosimo-Testa, who serves alongside Vescera on the Board, says the process works just fine.

“It’s not a subjective process,” Colosimo-Testa said. “There’s got to be a majority of the vote that votes for  this approval of a piece of property. There’s seven members on this board. Every one takes discretion for what comes in on the properties.”

Wednesday’s meeting also produced a unanimous vote calling for the state to amend its law to require sex offenders to disclose their criminal background when applying for temporary housing.

Other resolutions voted on during Wednesday night’s meeting included three laws that Councilman Joe Marino sponsored. He says although the laws are essentially on the books already, they need to be revamped and enforced.

Among them was a unanimously accepted resolution making it mandatory for department heads to attend all Council meetings or provide a representative of the the department to sit in.

Councilman Jerome McKinsey said the law made sense and that “department heads should want to be here.” Marino agreed, saying that their presence helps the Council retrieve all the facts from a situation, rather than being left in the dark.

In an 8-1 vote, the group also passed a resolution requiring Mayor Rob Palmieri to advise the Common Council of all proposed bargaining agreements before adopting them for the City. The only “no” vote came from Councilman-at-Large, Frank Meola.

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