Fox concerned with community preservation fund request

SOUTHWICK – Select Board member Russ Fox is concerned about a Town Meeting article pertaining to community preservation funds.

Fox told the board during its May 3 meeting that Article 16, a request to appropriate $27,606 from the Community Preservation Historical Fund to the B. Charles Real Estate Holding Co. for restoring and rehabilitating 11 stained glass windows at the Old Library is, in his opinion, not a legitimate request.

Southwick’s Old Library is now privately owned and under renovations. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

The Old Library, 475 College Highway, was purchased by Scott Lamon, who owns Tymic Landscaping, for $12,323.19 through a request for proposal process. Fox said he did not believe using a fund created with taxes should be used on what is now privately owned property that was purchased for less than the request.

“When we sold that building, one of the things we wanted to say [in the contract] was that they could not use community preservation funds,” Fox reminded the board. “But we couldn’t do that legally.”

Fox said they accepted the $12,000 proposal and if the owner receives the community preservation funds, “we have essentially paid someone to take this property.”

Fox said he believes the owner “is a fine gentleman and local businessman but I have a problem with this.” He “never would have agreed” to the bid if he knew the owner would come back for funds.

“The Community Preservation Fund is not free money, it’s tax dollars,” said Fox.

Select Board member Joseph Deedy said he understood Fox’s concerns

“I see your point,” he said. “We had one bid and we never told him he could never apply for CPC funds because we couldn’t.”

Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin said the $12,000 bid was the only response to the request for proposal and noted that the owner has “put in a ton of dough” into restoring the integrity of the Old Library, which is being converted to office space.

The Historical Preservation Restriction on the property required Lamon to comply with certain historical aspects of the Old Library: all period historical features and exterior doors including the trim; all interior wainscoting and chair rails; the original built-in bookcases on the main floor; the interior cornice (crown) moldings; the curved ceiling “niche” on the north side of the main room; the beadboard ceiling; the original wood flooring, if applicable; exterior elevations allowing for a handicap ramp on the rear and up to the north side entrance; historic preservation easement on the property to assure the exterior and certain key interior features will be retained while allowing commercial rehabilitation to be performed.

The Town Meeting is May 18 at the Southwick Regional School east parking lot at 6:15 p.m.

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