Cumberland Times-News


April 23, 2014

Canal Place Authority has no business withholding names

The recent Times-News editorial raising questions about the mandatory secrecy of the Footer Dye Works bids is spot on in my opinion.

Why, indeed, should the Canal Place Authority — which relies on public funding for its survival — be obliged to conceal from the public the identity of developers bidding on a property the authority controls?

Recent history makes this alleged obligation difficult to accept as the whole truth. For example, if memory serves me correctly, the name of the future developer of the Fairfield Inn was made public years before its contract was finalized. Also, the identity of the restaurant operator who bid on the parcel of land adjacent to the Footer building was shared with the public before they acquired their option, later abandoned, to develop the property.

The names of potential occupants of the Shops at Canal Place are triumphantly announced routinely whether or not they actually follow through with leasing space. Even the names of the individuals and small businesses bidding on the annual Canal Place maintenance contract are released before that agreement is finalized.

Looking to the east, the identities of the bidders to purchase the failed state-owned Rocky Gap resort were released and discussed endlessly prior to finalizing the purchase agreement. Never once did an attorney appear out of nowhere invoking the legal obligation to maintain secrecy.

It is interesting to note that in his remarks at the meeting the attorney chose not to cite the actual state law or regulation that forces the Canal Place Authority to withhold all information on the Footer Dye Works bidders from the public. Or is that, too, a secret?

Grant Irvin



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