By MADELINE HUGHES
The selectboard met for the first time since Town Meeting Day Tuesday and worked to finalize the purchase agreement with Healthy Living Market.
Voters approved spending $25,000 to enter into a purchase agreement with Healthy Living Market by a 2-1 margin. The purchase agreement would be to potentially build a combined fire and rescue station at the corner of Shelburne Road and Longmeadow Drive.
Healthy Living Market currently has an option to buy the land from Rice Lumber, and it approached the town first to see if it would share the land. The company has proposed to subdivide the land, selling 2.3 acres of the 4.8-acre parcel to the town for the combined fire and rescue station.
Formalizing the purchase agreement allows the town and Healthy Living to complete an initial analysis of the property. The town wants to know if the land can be subdivided and if it can be built. These questions need to be answered before Town Meeting Day 2020 where the town will potentially ask voters – if the land is suitable – to buy the land from Healthy Living for $650,000.
“We are not trying to rush anything, but now that we have the vote, we have a year to get that work done where we will decide to put it on the ballot,” town manager Lee Krohn said, mentioning the potential bond vote to buy the property. “Property can’t be purchased until we approve it at Town Meeting, and we have to decide to put it on the ballot.”
At the next meeting, the selectboard will appoint a group to work on the purchase and sale agreement process. The group will consist of Krohn, Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet, Rescue Chief Jacob Leopold, a selectboard member and three community members.
The board will be appointing those members at the next meeting. Those who are interested in serving on that committee are asked to email Krohn at email@example.com.
“Collectively we make sure that process is happening in ways that benefit the town,” Krohn said.
After about a half hour in executive session, the board appointed Jaime Heins to sign a non-disclosure agreement between town and Healthy Living Market to negotiate the purchase agreement.
There was also the post-Town Meeting reorganization of the board, and members opted to continue with the same leadership. Jerry Storey will continue serving as chair of the selectboard, and Heins, who was re-elected to a 2-year term, will continue serving as vice chair of the board. Mike Ashooh joined the selectboard, replacing Dr. Josh Dein.
The new board started planning the annual retreat to talk more in depth about its priorities. At the top of the list: economic development.
Storey suggested that the town create a committee for economic development. Board members generally agreed, but were torn on what the focus should be of the committee. Members hope to talk more in depth during the longer meeting.
No date or location has been determined for the selectboard retreat.