Bernard Baruch — the New York City philanthropist to whom Baruch College in Manhattan is named for — once advised all of us to “vote for the man who promises least” because “he will be the least disappointing.”
But it seems those words of wisdom applies not just to politicians, but corporations, too.
After years of stalemate negotiations between the city and CSX Corp., over a mile-long stretch of land along the Major Deegan Expressway that many hope to turn into a linear park, it seemed last year a compromise had finally been found — CSX will pick an appraiser, and whatever that property value expert came up with as a price tag for the old rail line, CSX will sell it to the city for that price.
That was great news because CSX was asking for the almost-silly amount of $10 million for the land, while the city really had little more than $2 million budgeted for the entire project. CSX even went in and started a massive clean-up of the site, removing decades of trash and debris.
Yet, when the appraiser came back with an amount we can only assume was far below the $10 million CSX wanted, the railroad giant balked.
CSX absolutely deserves to get market value for this land, even if they haven’t used it in a long time. It’s their land — they can do (or not do) what they please with it.
But no one is going to buy this land for $10 million. It’s land that is a mile long, and about as wide as what would be needed for railroad tracks. Really, the only uses for it would be a railroad or a nature trail, and it doesn’t look like CSX — or anyone, for that matter — is seeking the land to build a new rail line.
CSX earns about $1 billion in revenue each month, according to U.S> Securities and Exchange filings, while collecting a monthly profit of $274 million. Those kind of numbers come from great business acumen, but positive public perception comes from being a good neighbor.
CSX has the chance to show it’s a good neighbor. While we’re sure this land has been a great tax write-off over the years, it’s time to think of the community and sell this parcel of land at actual market value.