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Wellsville village attorney response to Tarek Otero parking lot story

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From Richard Buck, Village of Wellsville Attorney

            Tarek Otero is a retired NYPD helicopter pilot who bought the old Rockwell building at 86 North Main Street and associated parking spaces in 2022 for $175,000.  As many readers probably know, in New York City, private parking is a lucrative business. No surprise that the market rate for parking in the Village of Wellsville is substantially less than New York City.  In this market, the Village has been prudent and fair in its dealings with Mr. Otero to date. The Village’s offer of $32,000.00 to buy about 20 parking spots—spots that Mr. Otero would still be able to use by the way—seems eminently fair.

            Mr. Otero has said he doesn’t have the time to negotiate because he’s out of town travelling.  Curiously, he does have time to block off his 20 spots, make several phone calls to the Wellsville Police Department and ask them to ticket folks parking in his unused spots. That is his right under the law specified on his No Parking signs. My point is if you have time to do that, it seems he would have time to provide the Village a number he thinks those 20 spaces are worth.

            My belief is that this is a negotiating tactic. He is attempting to strong arm the Village into paying several thousand dollars a year to lease his 20 spots AND assume the responsibility for snow removal AND assume the responsibility for repairs and maintenance AND assume liability for any accidents on Mr. Otero’s portion of his parking lot property.  $32,000 seems like a fair price for 20 spots he would still be able to use while avoiding the cost of snow removal, other maintenance and repair costs and shedding himself of liability.

            It is worthwhile for the Sun readers to know how we got here. 

            Mr. Otero first approached the Village at the end of last summer. He offered to lease the 11,000 square feet of parking for $1,250 a month plus the Village would have to plow, maintain and repair that area.  (I’ve included a survey graphic of the area below.)  The mayor rejected the offer.  $15,000 a year plus snow plowing, maintenance and repair costs and assuming liability was not a good deal for the Village of Wellsville taxpayers in light of the agreements that had been in place for more than 50 years–$100 a year plus Village maintenance, repair and repaving and later just maintenance, repair and paving. (Note: prior leases provided below).  In just over 11.5 years, with Village taxpayer funds, Mr. Otero would have recouped the total cost of buying the Rockwell building and parking lot while preserving the right—like any other member of the public—to use those parking spots. 

            Eventually, the Village agreed to sign a temporary private license, not a lease, while appraisal proposals were sought from professional appraisers.    Mr. Otero was informed that the appraisal would provide a value to serve as the basis of a purchase offer for those 20 spaces and access lanes. Up against the Christmas season and to help the local merchants, the Village agreed to $1500 for the temporary license and agreed to plow and maintain the lot.

            The appraisal report, completed around late January, cost over $4,500.   The portion of the lot used for public parking for the past 50 years was appraised at $32,000.  That is the basis of the Village’s offer, made on March 6 to Mr. Otero’s attorney.  Mr. Otero, through his attorney, rejected that offer.  He stated that $32,000  was “not close enough to enter into negotiations.” I was also advised that Mr. Otero was “handling some matters out of town,” and could not negotiate. 

            Again, I find it curious that Mr. Otero does not have time to offer a number that would be “close enough” to negotiate, but he has time to monitor folks parking on his lot, call the police and ask them to ticket the Village residents he claimed he was so eager to help just 5 months ago.

            To have a fuller understanding of the situation, here are additional facts for the Sun’s readers to consider.

            In the summer of 2022, the Village also spent approximately $11,500 repairing and laying new blacktop on Mr. Otero’s portion of the parking lot.  Under agreements with prior owners, the Village would pave and maintain the lot in exchange for the public being able to use the lot for public parking. Mr. Otero does not assign any value to the Village’s work.  I presume because the work was done while he was in the process of buying the property, not after the closing date.

            Mr. Otero refuses to provide any basis for the amount to lease the parking lot.  On October 25, 2022, during a very pleasant 20-minute conversation, Mr. Otero claimed that he had written commitments to lease 36 spaces at $50 each.  He claimed that among the lessees were Mike Raptis and Chelsea’s Catering.  He said that he would provide me the all the commitments he had.  I welcomed that, because it would provide some documented basis of the lot value from Mr. Otero’s perspective. Mr. Otero has since declined to provide that documentation.  Mr. Otero also claims to have a total of 56 parking spaces to lease. Yet when it came time to sign the temporary license, inexplicably, Mr. Otero refused my request to specify the number of parking spaces in the agreement.  This struck me as peculiar, as I am sure it would any reasonable person.  If you can prove what you are claiming, why not prove it? 

            If Mr. Otero does have written commitments to lease 36 spaces at $50 a month, he would gross $1,800 a month or $21,600 per year.  I suspect that those folks or their customers, if these folks are business owners like Mr. Raptis, are already parking in the Village parking lot or on the area Mr. Otero now owns.  If Mr. Otero has those leases and those folks did sign them, they would have exclusive rights to Mr. Otero’s spots. And he could pay off his initial investment in 8 years in stead of just over 11.5 years.

            The Village, relying on the appraisal, believes that $32,000 is a fair price to purchase those 20 parking spots that the users of Mr. Otero’s buildings can still use. I say “about 20” because the new lines haven’t been painted yet.  I am using a survey that the Village commissioned last fall together with imagery and measuring tools from the Allegany County GIS and GoogleEarth. Those images are provided below.  Mr. Otero still has about a dozen parking spots right next to his buildings that he can reserve for his exclusive use. Using these websites, Sun readers can also get an approximate parking space count.

“Tap” any image to expand:

            Mr. Otero seems like a friendly guy.  I like him personally. He’s a guy who shares my passion for motorcycle riding.  He says he’s ridden in all 50 states. Furthest I’ve been is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but riding all 50 states in on my bucket list.  (Well, maybe 49.  I’d be happy to skip Hawaii). The taxpayers and I can understand Mr. Otero wanting to maximize his revenue because he owns the property.  But it is unreasonable in my view for Mr. Otero to insist that the Village negotiate against itself.  The Village is considering all options.


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