Board Reviews Proposal to Turn Town Hall into Housing Units
by Gazette Staff
GREENSBORO – At its April 12 regular meeting, the Greensboro Select Board discussed a cemetery commission project, a proposal from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and a proposed initiative to convert Town Hall into affordable housing units.
First up, on behalf of the Greensboro Cemetery Commission, Wayne Young reported that a contractor has been lined up to complete terracing and road building at the Village Cemetery. This project will allow access to all the land within the cemetery and is scheduled to begin in early summer. Young requested that the town provide 270 yards of bank run and 60 yards of gravel for the project, to be hauled by the contractor. Road Foreman Tom Camarra will coordinate loading with the contractor. The board voted to contribute the bank run and gravel to the project, as requested.
In the road foreman’s report, Tom Camarra reported that mud season is winding down and the road crew has been grading strategically. Also, the new truck is at the dealership and ready to be delivered to the shop that will install the body and plowing equipment. The dealer offered the town $55,000 for trading in the 2015 Western Star. The board discussed whether the town should try to sell the truck privately for more money. Board Chair Peter Romans said that he found similar trucks selling for upwards of $75,000. The board voted to advertise the old truck for $80,000 and, if it doesn’t sell, Romans will try to negotiate a higher trade-in value.
Next, bids for gravel, sand, paving, and roadside mowing were discussed. Bids will be solicited for 10,000 yards of crushed gravel, 5,000 yards of sand, one mile of paving, and roadside mowing with the same specs as the last few years.
The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) sent out a model traffic ordinance to all towns they serve. According to the OCSD, one advantage of enacting such an ordinance is more success for the sheriff in court. Board members will review the ordinance and discuss at a future meeting.
On the sidewalk schedule this year is Breezy Avenue, starting at Beach Road and heading up the hill as far as funds will allow. Before a new sidewalk can be installed, the existing sidewalk must be removed, and improvements made to the base. Last July, the sidewalk project was put out to bid. While there were no bidders, Perry’s indicated they could do the project this spring. It was unclear whether the board intends to hire Perry’s or rebid the project.
Camarra also expressed concern that if the sunken storm drain inlets adjacent to the Willey’s Store and the Miller’s Thumb are not fixed now, portions of the new sidewalk would be ripped up when the inlets are eventually repaired. The board did not make a decision on the matter at this meeting.
Another topic for discussion was the tire dumpster for Green-up Day. For a number of years, the town has provided a free tire dumpster during Green-up weekend. Despite the fact that some residents deposit their own tires in the dumpster, the board agreed the dumpster is still worth having to keep tires off the roadsides. The board discussed putting a sign on the dumpster noting that dropping off roadside tires are free, but that tires coming from a resident’s own property should be paid for.
Next, Treasurer Brett Stanciu raised the issue of the non-arbitrage account, which has a balance of $180,000. The money is left over from a number of years ago, when money was borrowed in anticipation of tax revenue. The board discussed what the funds might be used for, including the Porter Brook bridge project. According to Stanciu, the town auditor recommends that the town attorney be asked for an opinion on the matter.
The next topic for discussion was a proposal to convert Town Hall to housing units. The board reviewed a draft agreement from RuralEdge that would grant the organization an option to purchase the property under certain conditions. In the following discussion, Romans expressed concern about the lack of language regarding the relocation of the town offices.
Renovating the Grange to house the town offices could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he felt that the planning and/or financing of this project should be addressed in the option agreement.
Board member Gary Circosta felt that, with all the needs the town has such as the Porter Brook bridge replacement, new fire trucks, and possible wastewater projects among other things, Greensboro should not be selling the Town Hall to RuralEdge for one dollar, as the agreement stipulates. Circosta said that taxpayers are owed a better deal and should be consulted before moving forward with negotiations. He added that some of the terms used in the agreement, such as ‘affordable housing’, are not clearly defined. Board member David Kelley agreed that the town shouldn’t sign a contract until every aspect of the proposal is fully understood.
Board member Ellen Celnik said that the planning commission has looked into different aspects of affordable housing for years, and she knows it would not be economically feasible for RuralEdge to undertake a huge renovation of the Town Hall building while also having to buy the building from the town. The board agreed that Kelley should contact RuralEdge, discuss board members’ concerns about the initial proposal, get more information, and begin the negotiation process.
The board then voted to support the Caspian Challenge race and reappointed Mary Metcalf and John Stone as NEK Broadband Governing Board representatives.