Was City’s sale of Chilton Ave house transparent? Don’t bid on it!


There’s a mystery brewing on historic Chilton Avenue and several community activists have expressed interest in getting to the bottom of the puzzle’s particulars at the January 13 Planning Board meeting.

The city, under the guidance of Seth Piccirillo, director of Mayor Paul Dyster’s Community Development Department, sold 631 Chilton Avenue to Develop Niagara LLC for $500. The remarkably low selling price has people questioning the deal. While the Planning Board signed off on the property transfer the final approval of the council is now needed to close the purchase.

Piccirillo said the city published a public call for bids on 631 Chilton Avenue in the Gazette and on the city website in August. However, those speaking against the property sale appeared less than convinced as to the city’s sincerity in seeking bidders.

This latest brouhaha in a city hall that’s become a brouhaha breeding ground has generated serious questions in need of answers: is there a publicly posted policy for such sales and if not, why not?; why wasn’t the property prominently posted in order to seek the widest response and largest potential bid?; what has been the past practice in similar sale/bid situations?; the city claims the purchaser will invest $100,000 but why is there nothing but the buyer’s promise and the rather glowing endorsement of Piccirillo to guard the taxpayer? who is Develop Niagara LLC and what is their track record?; and, finally, is this property going to be flipped for sale, remodeled for renting, or perhaps developed as a residential treatment/housing facility of some sort?
The deal on its very face has the apparent markings of a fast tracked arrangement that flew under the radar and straight to the Planning Board. City residents Don King, Ron Anderluh and Diane Tattersall are not trouble makers, not by a long shot. Their individual histories in the community reveal them to be involved and sincere. The council should halt the sale until all questions have been fully and transparently answered.

As further proof, let us also consider that the buyer,  Karen Mock, a real estate executive with Keller Williams, sits on Mayor Dyster’s healthy community committee. She says she was asked to sit on the housing subcommittee of the mayor’s healthy community committee by Piccirillo.

Piccirillo has her as a friend on his Facebook page.

So the Chilton Ave. property sale is handled by Piccirillo and not advertised like a normal property (no sale sign, ads, listings etc.); only one person bids; she happens to be a woman asked by Piccirillo to sit on a board for the mayor and is a Facebook friend and she gets the property for $500.

While Mock is not to be blamed for trying to make a profitable purchase and appears to be a successful and honest businesswoman, the city did not handle this correctly.

This one should be re offered for sale openly, transparently and whoever pays the highest price should get the chance to own it.

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