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Mendon Selectmen Ponder Timing for a St. Michaels Purchase

Selectmen are deciding when to ask voters about purchasing the former St. Michael's Church as the site for the Taft Public Library.



During a May 21 meeting, the Board of Selectmen had a discussion with Library Trustees Susan Darnell and Bill McHenry as to when is the best time to bring a debt exclusion vote before residents in order to purchase St. Michael's and renovate the property into a new library for the town.

Not long ago, St. Michael's merged with Holy Angels and formed the new St. Gabriel's Church in Upton. As a result, the Diocese put St. Michael's up for sale. The cost to purchase the entire property, which includes the land and the rectory, is $360,000; a significant reduction from the original $800,000 asking price. The tax impact to a resident of a $400,000 home would be $13 per year for the next 20 years. The renovation costs would be an additional $1.7 million in total. The tax impact for the renovations for a $400,000 home would add $59 per year. The renovation costs would not include the rectory.

Because there are rumors that another party might be interested in purchasing the property, the Library Trustees are anxious to at least purchase the St. Michael's property through a vote at the June 26 Special Town Meeting with a ballot vote to follow in August or September.

While the Board has always stated its support of purchasing and renovating St. Michaels for a new library, they are now concerned about the timing of the vote. Selectman Lawney Tinio stated he had misgivings about the initial June vote explaining he didn't want to go forward with purchasing only the property without the renovation funding included. Tinio explained he doesn't want the town to just own another vacant building citing the construction of the town's new police station that has yet to be completed. "Pretty soon, the town is going to own the town."

Tinio then suggested asking the Diocese to agree to a Purchase and Sale agreement to hold the property for the town until a definite date has been agreed to for the debt exclusion votes. Tinio said he would contact Town Counsel about the Purchase and Sale agreement and get back to Darnell soon. An article to fund a down payment for the Purchase and Sale for approximately $5,000 could be voted on during the June 26 Town Meeting if it is agreed to.

In other news that evening, the Board elected Mike Ammendolia as the new Chairman for the next 12 months. Ammendolia thanked his fellow Board members for electing him and then discussed what he felt was a very aggressive agenda for the Board over the next year. "I will need the support of my colleagues seated here, town officials, town employees, and most important, the taxpayers of Mendon," he said.

Ammendolia then went on to list a number of items he says is in front of the Board, some of which included resolving issues with the adult entertainment lawsuit, making all town buildings handicapped accessible, completing contract negotiations between the town and unions, resolving Town Hall staffing issues, investing in the Public Safety Departments, and investing in the town's infrastructure, among others.




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