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Windsor Will Consider Plan For Armory

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 12/12/2016 11:59:52 PM
Modified: 12/13/2016 12:22:59 PM

Windsor — The Selectboard tonight will consider a recommendation from the Armory Committee to move forward with a plan to take ownership of the old National Guard armory on Ascutney Street.

“Based on all of the information we have gathered and reviewed, and after a comprehensive review of the physical facilities themselves, we believe it is in the best interest of the community for the Town of Windsor to move forward with a formal plan to assume legal ownership of the Armory building,” the committee wrote in a letter to the Selectboard.

The committee went on to say that a purchase and sales agreement with a token price of $1 that “allows for the necessary environmental and legal due diligence to be completed” is in the best interest of the town.

The committee did not make any recommendations for possible uses of the building, and instead said those considerations should be undertaken by a new committee while the town is moving through the purchase process.

Even if a proposed use is not finalized by the time the purchase and sales due diligence is complete, the committee still supports proceeding with the purchase.

Town Manager Tom Marsh on Monday said if the board agrees with the recommendation, he would have the town attorney begin the process for transferring ownership and at the same time, have the regional planning commission begin a phase 1 environmental assessment of the property to identify possible environmental hazards at the site.

Marsh said once that assessment is complete, the town would have to complete the purchase within six months.

If it does so within that time frame, the previous owner would become responsible for cleaning up any contamination, Marsh said. If the town has not acquired the property by then, another phase 1 assessment would have to be completed to maintain the previous owner’s responsibility.

“It is done this way so a new owner is not responsible for what someone else did,” Marsh said.

As for potential uses, Marsh said the town likely would agree to creating a new committee that would engage in public outreach to see what residents would prefer, and that could lead to a question before voters in the 2018 Town Meeting with cost estimates for improvements.

The armory, built in 1950, has been vacant since the National Guard left in 2011. It is located next to recreational facilities and, according to the original deed when the property was given to the town in the 1920s, the restricted uses are recreation or an armory.

The committee, formed in October, has been looking into both the risks and viability of the town taking ownership of the 15,000-square-foot building.

Among the issues reviewed were legal concerns related to the property title and property restrictions; zoning restrictions; proposals from residents on possible uses; and recreational opportunities and demands for the town.

The Selectboard meets at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the municipal building.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.


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