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Brighton selectmen accept gift of Island Pond Building

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Bigfoot    0

ISLAND POND — Pending a few slight changes to a purchase and sale agreement, the Brighton Selectmen accepted the gift of the former Island Pond Woodworkers building on Meadow Street on Tuesday night. The 15,000 square foot facility has been offered free of charge to the town by its owner, Robert E. Miller of REM Development Company in Williston.

The most immediate effect would be a loss of roughly $10,000 in local and education tax dollars, Brighton administrative assistant Joel Cope said. That amounts to roughly one cent on the tax rate, he added.

While the acquisition itself seemed relatively simple, real estate law aside, the bigger question remains what will become of the property. Mr. Cope said that there has been an inquiry from a buyer interested in purchasing the facility from the town.

“I guess it begs the question, what are we going to do with it when we have it?” Mr. Cope said.

Chairman of the Selectmen Melinda Gervais was not so certain that the town should simply view the property as a means to generate one-time income for the town. She proposed that the taxpayers of the town should be polled to see what vision they have for the nearly two-acre property.

“There has been a rumor going around that the town is going to make a mini-IROC,” Ms. Gervais said, referring to the Indoor Recreation of Orleans County facility in Derby. “The town will not take on the role of running a mini-IROC.”

While the selectmen did not rule out converting the space into a recreation facility, such a decision was something that warranted further study, Ms. Gervais said.

“Ultimately if that’s what the people want and that’s what they want to spend their tax money on, that’s something we could consider,” she said.

The town has its hands full maintaining its current facilities, so the option of taking on a recreation facility would be daunting, Mr. Cope said. As is, the town will need to find a way to allocate time among town employees to take over maintenance of the facility. Estimates from REM

Development estimated annual maintenance costs at $5,200.

“I’m sure a lot of that is just the time to have someone do what needs doing,” he said.

The exact format for seeking public input was not finalized on Tuesday night. While Ms. Gervais advocated for open public comment, Mr. Cope added a cautionary note.

“Brainstorming is great but you need some parameters for the discussion,” he said. “If people see that this option costs this much and that option that much, they have a better understanding of what it is they really want.”

On Tuesday night the selectmen also decided to tackle a thorny issue that erupted last winter — snow removal in the downtown core. Specifically, the selectmen opted to formalize snow removal between the town and the predominantly business occupied downtown area around Cross Street.

“The town doesn’t come and take away the snow from my yard,” Selectman Gerry Goupee said. “I don’t think we should take it away from the businesses downtown either. It isn’t fair to all the other taxpayers.”

Mr. Cope was instructed to send letters to the downtown businesses as well as several snow removal contractors known to operate in town. The letters specify that businesses are prohibited from either pushing snow into the streets or moving snow into the lakeside park.

Selectman Jim Webb expressed concern about the policy. He was concerned that while the policy addressed private landowners pushing snow into the road, it did not address town plows pushing snow back onto their properties.

“The snow that goes onto the businesses comes from the road,” Mr. Webb said.

“We’re not talking about the berm,” Mr. Goupee said. “We take care of the berm that we put up. He does it until every last snowflake is gone.”

Where to store a winter’s worth of snow is an ongoing problem, the selectmen agreed. Though the town has acquired a special snow bucket to help move snow, the number of options of where to put it remains limited. Ms. Gervais proposed that the selectmen take a walk to examine possible locations.

“I don’t know that we would be able to find any space,” she said. “It might be a case that the businesses will have to try and make better use of the space they have or pay someone to haul it away.”

In other business the selectmen agreed to post notices seeking the services of a part-time recycling center attendant. The attendant would work ten hours per week on Mondays and Saturdays.

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