Coverage of the wrestling tournament Saturday took this Observer reporter into the city-owned building at the back of Wakefield Park for the first time in several years.
Known as the Haulette Trailer building, the 8,000 square foot structure was purchased by the city in 1992 as a tax-free starter location for industry. That building plus the adjacent structure were up for bids at a tax sale.
Less than a year later, a new company, NWD International, sought a small facility to begin production and the Haulette building served as a perfect location to set up shop. There was 800 square feet of office space and the remainder was ready for the machinery that the fledgling industry needed to begin producing its product.
Renovating the building for NWD wasn’t favored by all city council members, but fortunately, the majority approved of investing some cash to bring in a new industry.
NWD brought jobs and tax revenue to the city for a dozen years before folding, and it paid rent to the city for 11 of those years before it moved into a larger facility for its final year of business.
Standing in the Haulette building Saturday afternoon, looking at the large open space with a high ceiling, one thought emerged: What a shame to turn this into a garage to park police cars. The perfect “incubation building” for another new industry like NWD would never again be used to generate jobs, rent and tax revenue.
The decision to move the police department to the Haulette building was approved by city council June 9. Two weeks later, the mayor requested that a council committee take another look at that decision.
We weren’t convinced of the wisdom of this decision when councilors voted last month. No council likes to go back and change an earlier vote, but maybe that will be done.
In 1992, council member Devon Vernier said this about the Haulette building: “We hope to own it...and we hope to start industry.”
That’s exactly what happened and we hope we’ll see more of that in the future.