Our opinion: The Ghost of Projects Past

If you’ve been wondering if the city is still thinking about suing someone or some organization over the failed Allegheny Center for the Arts building project, you’re not alone.

Last June a majority of City Council voted to direct the city administration to retain legal counsel to pursue legal action related to the debaucle that cost a half a million dollars of state-supplied funds and resulted in little more than a plywood shack that partially blocked a sidewalk in the heart of the downtown business district for more than a year.

We are told the idea has not disapeared. It is alive and well and currently in the hands of an Erie law firm.

“At this time, all I can tell you is that the matter is not ‘dead,’ and litigation remains a very real possibility,” according to Art Martinucci of the Quinn Law Firm in Erie.

That was last week, and likely the only bit of information publicly available on the subject.

We’re confident a grand jury investigation that has been going on for more than a year about the Anchor Grant project has not been lost on Mr. Martinucci, though he couldn’t speculate on either the outcome of that probe or how it would impact the city’s private lawsuit plans.

We don’t have to stick our neck out too far to muse that the outcome of the grand jury probe could have a significant effect on the city’s position, particularly if it singles out individuals or entities past or present for culpability.

In the meantime, the time is drawing nigh for candidates and incumbents to make known their interest in serving on Warren City Council, including the seat occupied by the mayor.

With or without a grand jury report, with or without some legal action offered for council to pursue, the ghost of the ACA building project will haunt the upcoming election. The ACA project was one of three segments of the city’s downtown revitalization plans – the financially hemorrhaging Clark Street Garage and the Hotel/Convention Center that never materialized making up the balance – that has left city government smarting and an electorate disenchanted.