Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eminent threat

When it comes to forcing Bruce Levinsky into action, the only easy solution involves a blow torch, a pair of pliers and several unspeakable acts not condoned under the Geneva Convention. Threats don’t work and neither do fines. Simply put, he marches to the smell of his own flatulence and not to the demands of the law.

Still, the circus sideshow between the butthead developer and the City Council over the aging Rip Van Dam continues at infinitum; so much that even recounting the history between the two has grown beyond tiresome. First, the preservationist tangled with him to save a historic wing of the structure, which was perfectly salvageable at the time. Levinsky scoffed at the idea and merely waited the preservationists out.

Then, nearly seven years later, it was the owner of the Adelphi who tangled with him, upset over the fact that his dilapidated building was spitting bricks onto their courtyard. More recently, it was the council that went after Levinsky, first demanding that he fix the structure, only to capitulate to his demands several months later. In all, they gave him more than two months to wreck a structure that arguably could be toppled by someone leaning on the wrong wall.

But the capitulation wasn’t enough for Levinsky, who waited and waited and waited until two months passed. Not one iota worth of work has been done at the Rip and the owners of the Adelphi –who are also trying to market their historic business –are faced again with providing their courtyard customers with some ominous advice: beware of falling bricks.

How does Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim respond to this morass? With more threats, more hot air, and more inactivity. Kim told The Saratogian Wednesday that he’s considering a shutdown of the whole building to force the developer’s hand. And he’s giving Levinsky another 14 days to comply before he does it.

Well, Mr. Kim. Talk is cheap, real cheap. This is especially the case if the aforementioned talk is coming from the suck-hole some in this city call the government. Why wait two weeks to shut the building down? Just shut the damn thing down now. After all, if everything Levinsky has preached about the wing is true, then it is an imminent threat to public safety.

Better yet, just seize the property through eminent domain. The property is a threat to the public and could be used for the public good, if the city is looking for some more parking. The razed wing and adjacent parking lot could provide the city with an additional 100-something prime spots off Broadway. The existing portion of the Rip could be subdivided and sold at auction to the highest bidder to help recoup some of the cost of giving Levinsky full market value for the property. Eventually, the city could use the parking lot for another one of their garages or even the public safety facility they've pined for recently.

Granted, eminent domain is a frightening lump for citizens to swallow, especially after what happened a few years back along Connecticut’s waterfront. But in this case, Levinsky has consistently thumbed his nose at government and is deserving of more than a slap on the wrists. Losing the Rip would teach him a valuable lesson in humility and would at last put to rest his dickering when it comes to a historic property that is in dire need of renovation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are abolutly right!
Bravo to Mr. Kim for his actions and lets hope the rest of the city council stand firm on this issue.
Mr Levinsky has had ample time to "get his house in order", but has chosen not to. Let's stop wasting time and tax payer's dollars (legal fees) and shut it down. Maybe Mr. Levinsky's his rent paying clients/tenents will turn up the pressure.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Mr. Levinsky could ever be taught a lesson in humility. I believe he cares less about Saratoga and more about moving his business to Glens Falls. In the last 6 months I think the appearance of many of his buildings has deteriorated. Even the interior of several leave a lot to be desired. Just slap it The professionalism of his field staff is appalling. Just work in one of his buildings!!!!! Stop whinning and tear that damn building down before someone gets hurt!!!!!!

9:22 PM  

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