The City of Rochester has denied our open records requests for the appraisals of 1540 and 1560 Lake Avenue.
City Council recently approved purchasing the property for $2.3 million to build a police station and neighborhood service center. Council legislation indicated the land was appraised for $1.5 million before cleanup of contaminants. The legislation also said it would be worth $2.8 million after the cleanup.
The properties have a combined area of 3 acres and an assessed value of less than $400,000. Kodak is selling nearby land for $100,000 to $140,000 an acre. For these reasons, Rochester for All filed the Freedom of Information request to inspect the appraisals.
In denying our request, the city cited the FOIL exemption that the record “if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.” Presumably, the city cited this exemption because the purchased hasn’t closed.
Committee on Open Government Executive Director Robert Freeman said the denial is not appropriate, because Council already approved the purchase price and the appraisal values were disclosed in the legislation.
“If they’ve disclosed the content of the record, they’ve waived the reason to deny access,” Freeman said. “The fact that (the sale) is not final doesn’t mean anything. City Council approved it and the contents have been disclosed.”
Rochester for All has appealed the FOIL denial. The Corporation Counsel office considers all appeals.