Our opinion: Bogged down

“A letter from then-City Manager Jim Nelles to (Ruzhdi) Bakalli indicated that construction of the homes at Home Street was to be complete by the end of 2013.”

That statement is from a story in the Times Observer on Nov. 22 of last year. The crux of the story was that the development plans for the site of the former Home Street School had bogged down.

They remain bogged.

And, as it turns out, a letter from the then-city manager does not a contract make. When a question was raised at this week’s City Council meeting about the project and the city’s assumption that things would be well underway by now, the current city manager indicated that her predecessor’s letter was really just the record of a verbal, and therefore non-enforceable verbal agreement.

Hence, depending on the depth of the bog, residential development on the cleared land that once supported the neighborhood elementary school may not be done for years, or ever.

It is true that Mr. Bakalli made good on his promise to raze the old school and prepare the land for development, but dreams of tidy houses for up-and-coming junior executives are fading fast.

Since we are now at the end of 2013, with no bricks, mortar or other signs of impending life on the lot, we wonder about the efficacy of a letter from a former city manager.

We sympathize with the plight of the developer. No one wants to see a project with such worthwhile potential fail.

But, Warren has seen a number of projects with worthwhile potential fail in which the city government has had a hand. And, most, if not all, of them have germinated and withered during a span of time in which the government was perhaps a bit slipshod in its oversight.

Fortunately, in the case of Home Street, no public funds were expended in the project, unlike some failed downtown gambits that cost taxpayers dearly.

So, we cling to feeble hope that the near-term future of the economy is such that a residential building boom descends upon the Home Street neighborhood.