Explore options

Having several abandoned buildings that are filled with asbestos in the middle of your city seems like a major liability.

That appears to be the situation at the former Daniel Webster College in Nashua. This past week, Mayor Jim Donchess informed The Telegraph that the apparent owner of the 50-acre campus owes the city $300,000 in property taxes – and continues to have no communication with the city.

For more than two years, the property has remained in a state of limbo. The college closed in 2017 after the former ITT Technical Institute, which Daniel Webster was affiliated, collapsed into bankruptcy.

Donchess said the property was purchased for $12.5 million. He also heard the owner was under the impression that it was an operating college at the time of acquisition, which was quite obviously not the case.

Donchess said the owner is a Chinese entity represented by a Connecticut attorney. The property owner has been identified as Sui Liu. The Telegraph has been unsuccessful in attempts to contact this individual.

This situation is particularly troubling because it makes one wonder what, if anything, can be done with this property.

At this time, Nashua officials are planning an $80 million middle school construction and upgrade venture. However, Donchess insists the Daniel Webster property would not be suitable for such a project because the buildings are in relatively poor condition.

“There’s asbestos in the buildings, tons. A lot of improvements would have to be done, and it’s a bunch of buildings scattered over a large area,” Donchess told our reporter. “It wouldn’t work for a middle school. There’s no particular city use that we could put it to, so investing millions of dollars to buy the campus would not be a good expenditure of funds.”

While we generally agree a city purchase of the Daniel Webster property would not be a wise use of taxpayers’ money, it also is not advisable to allow properties in your city to fall into a state of vacancy and disrepair.

If the Chinese owner of the property does not do anything with it by (or before) the end of this year, we believe Nashua city officials should begin seeking enforcement actions in an effort to get something going there.

In a city that clearly has a homeless problem, if nothing else, the buildings could be used as homeless shelters in the winter. That is clearly a better use of the property than allowing it to simply sit there in an idle state, slowly falling into decay.