What a summer. Now it’s finally fall! What does it bring? Who knows? A pandemic surge, or not. A new President, or not. Things beyond the influence of our town to directly impact us, perhaps. But I do believe every opinion, and every vote, does matter and we should all engage in shaping our future. How? That’s a choice. Opportunities abound. Speak up, create conversations, use your voice. And listen. Please listen. And vote. It’s our future. Meanwhile, here in Granby…
Tale of Two Properties, Part Two. Back in June I posed a two-part question: A: Which town property is for sale with no viable offers, and B:Which town property is still attracting interest even though it is not for sale? Well, Part B is no longer a question, it was answered by the Board of Selectmen (BOS) on Sept 8.
The former Kearns school is still for sale. On Part A—still no change. No viable offers to consider. The RFP was released to find a commercial broker, but none has been hired yet. The school system looked at using Kearns for extra space during the COVID-19 crisis, but decided not to use it. If anyone wants a 38,722-sq. ft. building on 33.8 acres of land near major traffic artery, call Town Hall.
The East Street property offer from Agbotic has been turned down. On Part B—the BOS decided to stop consideration of an unsolicited offer of $330,000 for a 50-acre piece of the 126-acre former Evonsion Farm at 107 East Street. In a 4-1 vote, the majority opinion was that the relatively large, flat, open space purchase was approved by taxpayers for the needs of future generations, and to break up the parcel and sell a portion of it at a greatly reduced value was short-sighted.
The details are available. I would encourage anyone interested in the detail to read the Board of Selectmen Packet dated 9/8/20 available in the Public Documents section of the town website—granby-ct.gov—and the BOS Minutes of the same date, which were not available at the time of this publication. Also watch the discussion online at GCTV16.org as it is quite informative.
The discussion was complex, the decision criteria were clearer. The offer was in discussion since before the COVID-19 era started and was evolving with several aspects changing and others still unclear.
What was clear was the offer price of $6,600 per acre compared to the $20,000 per acre paid by the town. Unclear was a host of issues including how access to the 50-acre rear lot would impact the use and value of the rest of the property. Estimates of property taxes ranged from $9,000 by the buyer to $165-180,000 per year by the tax assessor. There was discussion of a potential solar array and potential trash-to-energy plant that might return revenue to the town, and more. In the course of the discussion, four of the selectmen focused on the concrete values in the offer and on the property as an asset for future generations as the factors that guided their decision.
Future Use? That is unclear, and selectmen voiced several possibilities. In particular, it was stated that previous decisions to co-locate the high school, the middle school and public works all on one parcel created several safety and use conflicts that may force expansion to another site. Or other needs may come up that are totally unanticipated today. At least one selectman stated, “Land is not being made anymore,” and it is important to keep this unique parcel as a town asset.
So, our future awaits; let’s hope we shape it well.