As we approach the election, it’s getting harder and harder to decide what goes in week to week. I wasn’t even sure about the liquor store, until I went to the meeting.
‘A lot of spin’ put on deal for liquor store says alderman
Building a state liquor store at the corner of Granite and Second streets wasn’t the most popular idea to come before the aldermen this year, but on Tuesday, a majority of the board voted to move forward with a land swap that would allow the state to build a 10,000-square-foot store on the city-owned lot.
Manchester stands to earn $65,000 annually from the state over the next 25 years for the high-visibility location, and West Side residents would no longer have to go to Bedford or cross the river to buy their booze. But board members such as Alderman at-Large Dan O’Neil didn’t see the benefit to the city or the state in the deal. He and Aldermen Betsi DeVries, Garth Corriveau and Patrick Arnold voted against the project.
O’Neil told the board he had met with the state Liquor Commission and members of the city’s legislative delegation and was under the impression the state would rather buy the land than lease it.
“They said they’d be paying more for the land lease than if they purchased property,” said O’Neil. He also wonders why people heading up the highway would stop in Manchester to buy liquor when they could more easily do so up the road in Hooksett.
“There’s a lot of spin,” O’Neil said of the project. “It seems for many this was a done deal in the spring time.”
Arnold then asked the obvious question. Why exactly was the state willing to pay more for a lease than simply buying the land?
“I identified the location as a great location,” said Andy Davis, director of real estate for the commission. “Fairly early on meeting with Mayor (Ted) Gatsas and the (Manchester Development Corporation), they voted not to sell it to us because we would not be paying taxes. We still feel the location is a high-value target.”
Davis said on Wednesday the liquor store is anything but a done deal. The lease would need separate approval from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Attorney General’s Office and the Executive Council.