By now you probably have heard that Mayor Dan Rivera has requested that the new City Council approve funds in order to buy a piece of property that has been vacant for some time. The property belongs to Doctor Joel Gorn. He supposedly bought the property some time ago for about $150,000. It’s currently accessed by the City Assessors for $160,800.
Mayor Rivera wants to give Joel Gorn $675,000. That’s about $515,000 more than the property is worth. What makes this even more unethical or alleged corrupt is that Dr. Gorn is the Chairman of the Board of Health. A city paid position. Dr. Gorn is paid $20,077 per year for being appointed the City Physician.
Purportedly, the property is being purchased with the hopes that it could be used for the new police station. A vision that needs $35,000,000 more to even see any documents drafted for engineering purposes. This part of the article published by the daily reminds us of the property that he made the City purchase for the schools’ administration offices, only to see no action on the building. That building, located in Essex Street, is still an eyesore. It’s an eyesore that the city now owns because it remains empty and nothing has been completed to do anything with it. The school administration building was instead reconstructed in the same building in which the LPS was previously located, in downtown Essex Street, at a cost over the amount the City was willing to spend (including lawyers, settlements, constructions, etc.)
But this story is about the Lowell Street property. It’s another Estela Reyes story (her story was the property near the Oliver School). This is another story in which those in powers get to abuse their positions, unethically, to set their friends and political donors in a path that otherwise no other resident of Lawrence would be able to obtain if not for inside information.
Here are a few statements which show how both parties (Rivera and Gorn) substantiate their position (Hint: that’s how we know it is collusion). Rivera said the city should buy Gorn’s lot to block other potential development while the plan for the new police headquarters inches forward. Talk about a monopoly! Rivera also stated… ”we have to take this step regardless of the state or federal government funding.”
Then he added, “I’ll say this other thing: property values aren’t going down anytime soon” and “…all I know is that purchasing this property now is a crucial step in creating a path to a new police headquarters.”
On the other side Dr Gorn stated “….bought the property with the thought of eventually selling it to the city and to block other development in the meantime.” Of course you did Doctor! And you did so to rape the City of a 350% return with a favor from Rivera. Dr. Gorn also told a newspaper reporter that he “held it as a good steward of the property, paying my real estate taxes and entertaining ideas about development, (but) my intention was to wait until the city was ready to buy it. Over that time, the price of real estate has gone up considerably since the crash of 2008.” Dr. Gorn should see the City’s assessment to find that his property has only increased $10,800. That’s because he was made to put a chain link fences to secure the property. But he makes himself a good guy in order to substantiate his position.
I guess Dr. Gorn does not believe that a church is a positive building, or neighbor, to have in that property because he stated, when asked about other individuals or groups willing to buy the property “I want something positive to benefit downtown.” Dr Gorn said he was not selling to make a killing. However, that’s exactly what he is doing – a killing and it’s a killing by a doctor! Doctors are not supposed to kill.
Dr. Gorn stated that both parties appraised the property and that it appraised at $675,000-$700,000. A local newspaper wrote that both parties agree at the $675,000. However, if you visit the assessor’s database, will see that the property is assessed in 2017 at $160,800. Both, Rivera and Gorn want us to believe that this property went up half of million dollars in one year! Collusion!
They are both using taxpayers’ money to pull this despicable act of corruption. Rivera could have purchased that property at any time during his first term. And I am sure no other group or church would have given Dr. Gorn $700,000 for that one acre of property.
I am sure that the City Council and the Mayor have heard of eminent domain. That’s where the city takes the property and pays the value of the assessment. Let me make this clear, not their assessment but the city assessor’s assessment. Eminent domain would save the city more than half a million dollars and allow something better to be placed on that site.
On a disclosure notice, Dr. Gorn is a political donor of Mayor Rivera’s campaign to elect him Mayor.
Jorge A. DeJesus