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Sixty-Car Municipal Lot Offered As Sweetener For Prescott School Deal [with Video]

Two town-owned buildings are again before Selectmen for a determination on the future of the now or soon- to-be vacant and unused municipal buildings.

Prescott School

The Board reviewed the proposal for purchase of the Prescott School by Groton resident Gregory Yanchenko, for the sum of $35,000 which includes installation of a municipal parking lot for 60 cars at the rear of the site that will be leased to the town for the sum of one dollar per year in perpetuity; the installation of a connecting walkway from the back of the school to the Rail Trail, and community use on the exterior of the building four times per year.

He also suggested that the community could use the school's gymnasium, but that the town had to pay for an estimated half-million-dollar renovation of the gym with new bathrooms and electrical work. He said that in the negotiations, the town officials were not receptive to this.

In addition, Yanchenko is requesting a separate article seeking town approval of a TIF - Tax Increment Financing Program - that allows for reduced payments of real estate taxes over a seven-year period.

Yanchenko is proposing to use the building for office space for his architectural firm, for an ecompany and for a company that is a printing partner. He told the Board that with the building used for school offices that the Building Inspector has advised him that he needs to add a sprinkler system, and new electrical service. He noted that there are no fire doors, and that bathrooms need to be upgraded. He anticipates that over several years, he will invest some $1.5M in upgrading the building.

An appraisal of the property has been completed by Certified Real Estate Appraiser Ellen H. Anderson of Petersham, who, according to Haddad, found the price offered by Yanchenko to be reasonable.

Selectman Degen said the proposal had a "lot of merit, stimulating business in town, but I have issues with the TIF." However, he supported moving the articles for Prescott and the TIF to Town Meeting and "let the voters decide." Colleague Petropoulos told the Board that he would not support the articles, noting the recent formation of a committee charged with creating a marketing strategy for town-owned buildings that are to be sold and that it also struck him that Prescott and Tarbell were essentially the same price, $35,000.

Selectman Eliot said she thought Yanchenko's plan was a, "great use of the building for Groton, revitalizing the commercial area." She added that it has been over two years that the town was seeking the sale of the old school.

Following further discussion, the Board voted - three in favor of both the Town Meeting Warrant article for the sale of the building and the article for the TIF including Cunningham, Eliot and Selectman Stuart Schulman, one voting no - Jack Petropoulos and Degen wo will make his recommendation at Town Meeting.

Tarbell School

Tarbell School in West Groton village has been under a Purchase and Sale agreement for $35,000 with Robin Kane, owner of Country Kids, following a Town Meeting vote two years ago which also authorized the town to install a $30,000 septic system at the historic building. Voters were supportive of keeping what was once a vibrant elementary school that saw generations of West Groton residents pass through their doors continue as an educational center.

However, the date for closing on the P&S continued to be pushed out as the proposed purchaser found issues that needed to be addressed. Apparently, the deal breaker was the requirement to install a sprinkler system. Thus any action on the P&S languished.

According to Town Manager Mark Haddad, Kane now wants to close on the school, not for use as a home for Country Kids, as her business has already relocated, but to resell the property to another buyer. Kane had put down a deposit of $5,000 for the property. Haddad told Selectmen that Town Counsel has advised that the town terminate the Purchase & Sale with Kane and return the deposit to her.

Selectman Josh Degen said he would prefer a mutual consent with Kane to terminate and suggested inviting her to come to a future meeting. Haddad responded, "They want to close and sell the property," adding that if it is to be used for anything other than educational purposes; the property has to be re-zoned.

Degen added that Kane made a representation to Town Meeting that the building would be used for kids and it was sold for this express use. Selectman Jack Petropoulos noted that it appeared that Kane just wants to "flip it."

Colleague Anna Eliot said that Town Meeting voted for this with the expectation that it would be used for a day care center and said she wanted to "rescind the P&S and start over."

Following further discussion, the Board supported asking Kane to come to their meeting next week, where they will make their decision.

Groton Herald

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 610, Groton, Massachusetts 01450

145 Main Street, Groton, Massachusetts 014510
[Prescott Community Center]

Telephone: 978-448-6061

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