Taxpayers to vote on town property purchase
Dec. 3—WILLIMANTIC — Taxpayers will vote on a possible town property purchase during a town meeting Tuesday night. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Bellingham Auditorium at town hall, 979 Main St., prior to the town council meeting.
The town council approved a resolution to send the issue to a town meeting by a vote of 9 to 1 during the Nov. 15 council meeting, with town council member Steven Edelman opposed.
” We can’t acquire property without going to town meeting,” Windham Mayor Thomas DeVivo said.
The purchase price for the property, which is at 460 Boston Post Road, is $124,000.
” It’s not a lot of money,” Windham Town Manager Jim Rivers said.
According to the town property card, the property is owned by Patricia Donahue and is 11.6 acres.
“How can this council make an informed decision without reviewing this appraisal?” Edelman asked, referring to the resolution.
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Council President Dawn Niles said that the town council discussed the purchase price and what the property would be used for during previous meetings.
“We were told, basically, how much money this would be months ago,” she said.
The appraisal valued the property at $130,000.
The property, which is in an industrial zone, was used as a gravel pit for decades.
DeVivo said the purchase is an investment, noting that it would protect the town’s white cedar bog, which is adjacent to the property.
“By owning this property, we could kind of control encroachment that might damage that property,” he said.
The town will pay to create a parking area, finish grading and create a trail access point, work that was started by the current owner.
There is a 2.35 acre pond on the property that can be used for fishing, swimming, kayaking or other recreational uses. The southerly side of the property abuts the Airline Trail Greenway for 600 feet and the east side of the property abuts land protected by Joshua’s Trust, which is a cedar bog.
The west side of the property abuts a small water detention pond, as well as the property where a 136 unit apartment complex will be built.
Edelman said while the word ” preservation” sounds nice, he was concerned about the town spending money on the purchase.
Rivers, however, said there is at least one “windfall” that can be used to pay for the purchase without bonding or using undesignated fund balance.
He said the town budgeted about $100,000 for interest revenues.
Rivers said due to rising interest rates, the town is significantly over budget in that area, noting that there is currently about $400,000 in interest revenues.
” We have a very strong balance sheet in this town,” he said.
Edelman also expressed concerns about the condition of the property, which he visited.
” It’s over- excavated,” he said. “It’s got a twoacre mosquito breeding ground.”
Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter-@ mwarrentc.
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