Date: Fri 02-Oct-1998
Date: Fri 02-Oct-1998
Finance Panel Cautious About Queen St Properties
BY STEVE BIGHAM
The Legislative Council's finance committee Wednesday almost recommended the
town purchase the Queen Street properties from the state. Then it thought
better of the idea.
Any official recommendation will have to wait until the committee has more
information. For example, committee member Don Studley said, why exactly are
we considering this land? What would we use it for? If the town turns around
and sells the asbestos-filled homes, will the town be liable down the road?
Last spring, the state offered the town eight homes and six lots along Queen
Street. The total cost -- $1,191,500. The purchase plan must receive the
approval of the Legislative Council, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and
finally, the taxpayers at a town meeting. If approved, the property would be
purchased through a special appropriation.
However, the finance committee was not ready to make any recommendation to the
full council this week, especially after the questions raised by Mr Studley.
"Are we going to buy this in the abstract?" he asked.
First Selectman Herb Rosenthal said the Board of Selectmen had come up with
some possibilities, but no concrete plan. He said the selectmen would put
together a list of scenarios for the council's meeting next month.
So far, ideas include: 1) re-selling the land with deed restrictions; 2)
ballfields; 3) some sort of municipal use.
Pierre Rochman estimated the long-term financing for the Queen Street
properties would be, at most, $500,000. Mr Rosenthal said the town could
receive help from the state through the Local Capital Improvement (LOCIP)
Committee member Karen Blawie noted that the Queen Street properties are not
on the top of the list of capital improvement projects. It was only rated
"three," she said, which meant members felt it "would be nice to have, but..."
True, said committee member Melissa Pilchard, but this goes to the taxpayers.
They should have an opportunity to decide if they want this property.
But, Mrs Blawie asked, do they know the financial impact? Do they know all the
costs coming down the pike? It's our job to know these things and make the
tough decisions, she added.
Mr Studley is clearly cautious about purchasing the land. "Have we actually
determined what kind of value this property has to the town. Why are we buying
it? Because it's nice to drive down Queen Street and be able to see the open
fields?" he asked.
Mrs Pilchard reminded the committee that Queen Street has both public water
and sewer service.
"With water and sewer you can instantly break any zoning regulations that
exist if you do not put deed restrictions on the land," she said.
In short, deed restrictions would enable the town to ensure that the eastern
side of Queen Street does not turn in to a multi-family housing section.
Mr Studley said he wondered why condos would be such a bad thing.