On September 28, 2005, Sprawl-Busters reported that local residents in New Bedford, Massachusetts were up in arms about a Home Depot land deal that would destroy an historic mill building in this seaside community, and close down a popular antiques center. It’s been a rough nine months for Home Depot in this city, as witnessed by the following update submitted from citizens this week: “It has almost been a full year since we were in touch with you about battling Home Depot in New Bedford. We did work with Attorney Gregor McGregor over last summer to learn how to fight this thing, but had trouble raising money to hire him (a lot of people just couldn’t accept that it wasn’t a done deal). We did some research that uncovered some problems with the land disposition by the City, and when Scott Lang declared his candidacy to take on the then — Mayor,who was behind this deal, I went to Lang with what I found. The short version of the story is that working with Scott (who won by a landslide in November), the deal is dead, and judging from this morning’s press conference, Home Depot is being held culpable for some of the shenanigans, they clearly
enabled some of the dirty dealing. So they are getting a bloody nose..or is that orange?” The Boston Globe reported that the state Inspector General’s investigation into the Home Depot deal in New Bedford concluded that the award to the retailer of city-owned land was fixed to set up a former city lawyer to broker the development. “I find overwhelming evidence that this procurement was a sham process designed to reward a faithful political ally of the previous administration, and not to serve the best interests of the city of New Bedford,” Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan reported. New Mayor Scott Lang requested the IG investigation. The IG concluded that former Mayor Frederick Kalisz steered the deal to his longtime friend, former city solicitor George Leontire’s, whose Whelan Associates real estate firm made $500,000 for brokering the deal. The case may be referred to the state attorney general’s office for prosecution. Leontire said that the $500,000 was intended for a scholarship fund for New Bedford public school students. Home Depot now will not obtain the property under the “scam” arrangement, the new Mayor says the company can apply again.
For an earlier story on the New Bedford battle to save this historic mill building, and the antiques business inside it, search Newsflash by “New Bedford.”