The lease is a legal minefield. Public bidding laws (Ch 30B) require an appraisal prior to signing a lease, which has not been done. The laws also prohibit the city from improving the terms after the bid has been accepted, such as by investing $2 million in the property, throwing in a free liquor license, the security guard and vehicular access across Ferryway Landing. In addition, the lease violates Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, which requires approval by two-thirds vote of the state Legislature for any disposition, including a lease, of this property. No such legislative approval has been obtained. If the city can’t deliver on the promises in the lease, the Black Cow can sue the city. This will be the golf course all over again.
The way forward is clear: Wait for the Appeals Court decision in January and if necessary, modify the DPA. Get permission for access across Ferryway Landing. Address the parking and traffic concerns of the neighborhood and adjust the plan if required. Eliminate the dedicated security guard. Do a study of comparable rents as required by law. Rebid the restaurant as fully permitted, including a liquor license, including the $2 million in improvements, etc. There is no doubt that the city will get bids three or four times higher than the one in the lease.
Why is Mayor Bill Scanlon pressing so hard to rush this through before the new mayor and City Council take their seats? The only thing a quick signing does is create legal rights for the Black Cow to sue the city. We urge the council to take no action on this lease until the new mayor and council are seated.
Editor’s note: Frank and Suzanne Kinzie own the Beverly Port Marina next door to the waterfront property in question. Their appeal of the project is currently before the state Appeals Court.