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Auction set for city garage inventory

Facility to be razed with two downtown buildings

By Scott Bellile

A public auction of numerous items that were once stored inside the former garage is set for Saturday, April 8.

The event will feature an array of items that belonged to the public works and streets departments, whose home bases were the garage. Miscellaneous items owned by other city departments will also be sold.

A preview begins the event at 9 a.m. with an official start time of 10 a.m. at 915 W. Wolf River Ave.

Among the larger items up for sale will be a 1997 Ford F150 pickup, a Toro 325-D Groundsmaster riding lawn mower, and a 1998 Ford Econoline Municipal Bus, which is a 14-passenger vehicle with a wheelchair lift. Other items up for auction will include tools, vending machines, traffic signs, push mowers, lockers and safety gear.

The event’s facilitator, Travis Radtke Auctions, posted the full list of inventory along with photos at travisradtkeauctions.com.

Although hiring an auctioneer costs the city money, doing so can increase the money the city earns from the sales.

“The benefit to doing an auction versus going with the internet is with an actual auction, [the auctioneer] can kind of pull things in that we might not have thought about and at least try and auction them off,” New London Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh explained at a February board of public works meeting. “Where if we go online, we [the city] just put on there what we think might be of value. We might be missing some items. It also gives the locals more chance to bid on these things and it gives it kind of a special event for the city.”

“It’ll save [taxpayers] man hours moving it, too,” Second District Alderman Tom O’Connell added.

Auctioneer Travis Radtke further explained to the Press Star how an in-person auction benefits his clients.

“The biggest benefit is time,” Radtke said. “If you’re a business, even if you’re just an individual, the amount of hours of labor that come in for preparation also the amount of time spent trying to conduct a sale [add up]. With an auction, we come through, we do the prep labor, we do the advertising for it and for the most part, about 99 percent of the merchandise on site is sold the same day.”

With crews now working out of a new city garage down the street, the former garage is expected to be demolished this spring. Contractors begin bidding on the project Tuesday, March 28.

Lumped in with the project will be the demolition of two vacant city-owned buildings across the street from New London Public Library. The buildings are 401 S. Pearl St. (a former trophy shop) and 405 S. Pearl St. (once a grocery store). Bidding all three buildings together will save the city money.

Once project bids are reviewed, the New London City Council will approve the winning bid in April so demolitions can begin in May. The three buildings are expected to be leveled by early summer.
Questions arose earlier this year over whether the two buildings
across from the library are technically property of the city or of the library. Both were donated by community members so the library could raze them and construct a new library there. That hasn’t happened, and visions have since shifted toward erecting a mixed-use library elsewhere in town.

The finance and personnel committee said in February the former trophy shop belongs to the city, while the old grocery store belongs to the library. Therefore, the city will fund the trophy shop’s demolition and the library will use trust funds to raze the grocery store.

The city council authorized the proposal 9-1 on Feb. 14, with O’Connell voting against.

New London Public Library Director Ann Hunt shared at recent city meetings that the old grocery store in particular is deteriorating from years of neglect. She said the ceiling is in rough shape and the building is full of dead pigeons.

“We realize that something has to get done,” Hunt told the finance and personnel committee in February. “It is getting worse, the grocery store especially.”

Members of the New London Library and Museum Board have suggested using the land as parking because library patrons who park on the street have to obey a two-hour time limit. They also favor the option of selling the land to a developer if one comes along.

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