Sale clears one hurdle

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Prospect voters OK buying Community School, district meeting up next

Prospect residents Terry Dominy, left, and Ann Stein tour the former Community School in Prospect Monday before a town meeting to vote on the purchase of the school. Residents unanimously approved buying the school for $873,000 from the Region 16 school district, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The sale of the school must now be approved at a district meeting. –LUKE MARSHALL
Prospect residents Terry Dominy, left, and Ann Stein tour the former Community School in Prospect Monday before a town meeting to vote on the purchase of the school. Residents unanimously approved buying the school for $873,000 from the Region 16 school district, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The sale of the school must now be approved at a district meeting. –LUKE MARSHALL

PROSPECT — The purchase of Community School took a step forward Monday night with the unanimous support of Prospect voters.

About 85 voters cast their vote at town meeting in favor of buying the former school from Region 16 for $873,000 and spending up to $400,000 to make repairs to the building. The town plans to borrow the money to buy the school. Officials will use the town’s share of the roughly $1.44 million 2014-15 school budget surplus to cover the repairs.

“I’m very, very pleased the town came out and supported this,” Mayor Robert Chatfield said.

Community School, located at 12 Center St., was closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Prospect officials have eyed the building and plan to use it for a variety purposes, including recreational activities and for civic organizations. The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved selling the school to the town for $873,000 in a controversial decision in October.

Prospect resident Terry Dominy said buying the school is a great idea for the town, pointing to the variety of uses that the building can house.

“It’s such a good buy they can’t really afford to pass it up,” Dominy said.

Resident Ann Stein said purchasing the school would be in keeping with the town’s plan to bring the center of town to Center Street.

“It’s been the town’s goal to acquire properties in the center of town and this is a major player. This gives us a lot of opportunity now and in the future to develop this whole area as our town center,” Stein said. “Once it’s gone it’s gone. We can’t get it back.”

Although Prospect residents have approved buying the school, the sale is not final yet. The school board has to hold a district meeting at which voters in Prospect and Beacon Falls will vote on selling the school. The school board is expected to schedule a district meeting at its meeting on Wednesday.

If the sale is approved at a district meeting, Chatfield said the closing would likely occur in the beginning of July.

The money from the sale of the school would be returned to the towns based on the student population ratio, which is roughly 60 percent Prospect and 40 percent Beacon Falls. According to the sales and purchase agreement for the property, Prospect would receive $530,470 from the sale and Beacon Falls would receive $342,530.

Region 16 is expected to return the money to the towns in late August or early September, Chatfield said.

The sale also faces a hurdle from Beacon Falls officials who have vowed to block the sale by filing an injunction in court. They contend that the sale price is not fair market value.

The towns and the school board each got an appraisal last year on the school, ranging from $1,225,000 to $1,510,000. The Town Council’s original offer for the school was $783,350, which took the average of three appraisals and subtracted $545,000 for repairs to the building. The school board discussed this offer in an executive session Oct. 14 before unanimously voting to set the price at $873,000, which took into consideration some of the repairs needed. The Town Council subsequently agreed to the price.

Town Council Chairman Thomas Galvin encouraged Prospect residents to attend the district meeting.

“There may be opposition because the other town may want to encourage to hold off the deal for a higher selling price. We don’t think that works to anyone’s advantage,” Galvin said. “Voters of both towns are eligible to show up at that meeting, so we just have to make sure we have strong participation like tonight. That will be a majority rules that evening.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. No referendum unless there is a petition. A meeting is scheduled for March 23, are you ready for this: 5:30-7pm at LR.
    Sounds like this will be a stacked meeting and I’m sure all 12 BF residents will show up. Beacon Falls gets what beacon falls deserves.

  2. Mr JD I thought long and hard while coming back home from a very very long drive. Yes you were correct to criticize me for having the wrong name. But let me put this to you. I dont hide behind a screen name – every on both towns knows who I am. There are a small handful of people besides BF Selectmen that have been fighting this deal, the Region for their (can be stated as gross) mismanagement with the exurbanite surpluses then taking parts of that money without allowing the town’s residents to vote, bad mismanagement of the buildings, etc, etc, etc. Those people really amount to maybe 5 or 6 and since you hide behind a screen name. I dont know if one is you.

    I deal with extremely bad health issues that make it to where I could have a significant failure any time and possibly dieing.Going to the.BOE meeting in particular at LR I ended up passing out while pumping gas BUT I still went and argued with all the breath I had in me against this and again stating what is fact about the “issues” with the Region management and BOE. I personally with almost no breath left told the Superintendent that he is inept and should resign. I was in the same position during our BOF meeting where they came to discuss the issues. I gave everything I had to argue our merits.I do my best to uphold my duties to the town by making almost every BOF meeting by scheduling my appointments around as best as can.

    All that said and with you probably wondering where I am going with this, Again you are right that I should have gotten the name correct while representing BF but at same time you must aloe criticize the rest of the BF residents for not giving a dam, And since I dont know who you are that may also include you for same reason. everyone else hide behind screen names as I said prior,

  3. You are right I got the name wrong – have always been bad with names. But fact are still basically the same.

  4. #brian, who is the Tom you keep referring to? There is no Tom on the BOE. Bob Hitchcox, if spelled correctly, was the Chairman of the BOE during this mess. The same #Bob was also a member of the Prospect Community School research committee, and if there was a conflict of interest it was there as well. How can he represent the Regional taxpayers fairly when he was conflicted running both committees? Mr. Ploss, please get your facts straight before you attempt to represent we Beacon Falls taxpayers. I for one hate the deal. We was robbed, as the saying goes. I hope this goes to referendum as mentioned above.

  5. surgemtff I really appreciate you seeing some of what our issues are BUT if I may honorably disagree with your not seeing the sale being a double dip if you dont mind. Here is why.

    The 3 appraisals were as is with a round average of the 3 being around $1.25M. AGAIN THAT IS TAKEN AS IS WITH BUILDINGS IN CURRENT CONDITION. I understand that that possibly to sell for more may have to put money in BUT again that building is as is. And I do understand that there is haggling during a sale where condition is a factor but in this case it is really different.

    So for Tom to push for $870somethingk is making BF to spend money in a building that we do not get. If you want to go there why not make it something that we can share and it might not leave as bad of a taste in our mouth. But no matter how Tom, Mayor Bob and the BOE/Region spins this, Prospect is forcing BF to pay for repairs and that is indeed a double dip.

  6. Brian
    The 65% market value for a building that need repair is about right. You could not sell a house for full market value if it needed repairs. It is not double dipping it is Logical business. I can see you want what is fair, but just like buying any property you have what it is worth then if repairs are needed, then the buyer says to the seller that X,Y,&Z need to be fixed so it gets fixed before the sale or the cost is subtracted from the sale price.

    I was not at the meeting you have spoken about where Mayor Bob supposedly “Ran Out and tripped.” Do I agree with what had happened at that meeting if it is how you say it was? No I don’t think that was by any means reasonable for Mayor Bob to run out, but I also do not know what was happening at the meeting or if something else had come up that Mayor Bob had happening. I do agree with you that yes the issue should have been tabled for a month so more research could have been made on the facts that 1st Selectmen Bielik and others made at that meeting.

    As for the other schools having problems. I can only imagine what problems they have too. WHS by my opinion should have minimal if any problems because of the age of the building compared to the other schools.

    My opinion would be to dissolve the region because I can see what you are saying that Prospect has such “Heavy Weight”. I don’t know if the towns are divided on a choice (As seen here) that it truly is what each community will want. I also agree If the Superintendent and the BOE did their jobs correct there would had been no issues at all and no need to legally but unethically take surplus monies from the citizens to address additional issues not in the budgets that either town has voted for.

    My hopes are that these issues can be resolved quickly and fairly.

  7. surgemtff please tell me your kidding.?.? This has nothing to do with me being on the BOF, the 60/40 and not 505/50 split, aliens or anything else. This is simply Prospect with it’s WEIGHTED VOTE IN THE BOW represented by Tom who was chair of BOE at the time and On Prospect’s Council pushed a lower price through BY MAKING BEACON FALLS PAY FOR REPAIRS IN A BUILDING THAT BF WILL GET NO USE FROM. Simple as that – YOU DOUBLE DIPPED MAKING BF PAY FOR REPAIRS TO YOUR BUILDING. Hell even Common Core cant screw that up.

    And before you try to shift the blame to our BOE reps, yes we were not served at all well by our representatives on the BOE, but will ask you this question. Were you there at the meeting when the BOE decided on the price offer to Prospect and accepting the proposed rebid from Prospect?? I was. Sheryl asked Tom to hold on the vote so more research could be made on the facts that 1st Selectmen Bielik and others made and he refused. What was the rush?? Also why to Mayor Bob run out of there so fast he almost tripped while trying to get his jacket on at same time?? Was it that he didn’t want to listen to what was fair issues brought up by the BF reps their?? Shame on him. If Bielik or any of us did that to him he would have had a freaking fit. And dont even go there about needed building repairs. LL had ton s of issues, along with WHS, LR and the rest. If the Superintendent and the BOE did their jobs correct there would had been no issues at all and no need to legally but unethically take surplus monies from the citizens to address additional issues NOT IN THE BUDGETS EITHER TOWN VOTED FOR.

    I have been pushing for something similar to Region 9 where there are 3 BOE’s with each town having one and then a separate for the shared schools. That weigh whenever Prospect wants something Beacon Falls doesn’t have to automatically pay for it because even at a 100% town turnout we couldn’t beat you at a referendum.

    Again as a citizen of BF this is as simple as this. If BF wanted to buy LL at somewhere around 65% of a market value THAT INCLUDES THE REPAIRS ALREADY FACTORED IN dont you try to tell me Prospect would be cool with it. We may be the stepbrother only wanted to share costs, but we sure as hell ain’t stupid. I personally have no issues with Tom, but he is a big boy and I asked him a question on his statement on what he said and what he thinks is fair. Why isn’t he replying??

  8. Brian in response to you stating that Prospect “You built that freaking Taj Mahal of an elementary school just for your town and graciously threw scraps at LL.” What about all the remodels and expansions that Loral Ledge has had over the years that Algonquin did not have. Algonquin was in very bad shape while LL kept expanding and upgrading. My Opinion is if the Regional District is so bad and uneven then why not dissolve the district and have each town cover the cost of their students. I know Prospect has a 60/40 to Beacon Falls in student population and that is how the cost will go back to each town. So as you say Prospect could have just built the Prospect Elementary school for both town. the growth of population showed a need for the size of the facility. You being upset as a citizen because you feel you are slighted because the price is too low that your town would receive. As a BOF member only shows further that you are not happy because the money is not 50/50 but 60/40. looking at the towns as equal is not fair because with the higher population Prospect puts more into the district and should get what is put in. Again if the towns feel that this is a problem then divide and move forward. Drawing out the process of the sale by putting court orders hold up the sale only hurts both communities further. Increase legal fees by both towns and the district to fight over the cost is crazy. The Board of education is made of members of both communities, These Members are voted by their respected town and are the voice of the towns to the district. The Board of Education had made the price deal with the town of Prospect. So in other words you and the BOF of Beacon Falls do not trust, agree, or even stand behind the decision of your elected officials. Instead of shaming the Prospect Community for the price agreed upon. You should be looking at you own members who made the decision to sell. If the Member of your Town failed to show to vote or abstained from voting then shame on them for failing your community.

  9. Work got in the way last evening, so I was unable to attend the Bd of Ed meeting where they planned to set the date for the district vote for March 23rd at a District Meeting to be held at Long River Middle School from 5:30 to 7:00PM. does anyone know if this was set up?

    I planned to suggest that this MUST go to referendum. Holding a meeting at the time suggested when people like myself cannot be there and to add insult, hold it in Prospect when that Town is the buyer being approved, is outrageous. An all day referendum is the only way to level the playing field.

    A survey I have running on Facebook for the last 24-hours asking who supports a referendum vs. a district meeting has had a small response, but that response is 17-1 in favor of a referendum.

  10. Beacon Falls always losses when it comes to the Region. Maybe this time people will wake up and fight with their presence and voice. Like most meetings a vocal few deceide for the quiet majority.
    People wake up!

  11. “There may be opposition because the other town may want to encourage to hold off the deal for a higher selling price. We don’t think that works to anyone’s advantage,” Galvin said. “Voters of both towns are eligible to show up at that meeting, so we just have to make sure we have strong participation like tonight. That will be a majority rules that evening.”

    As a resident of Beacon Falls I find it interesting and shameful you went there Tom given that is BF’s argument why this is an unfair sale. Even with common core math there is a 60-40 split with Prospect having the advantage. It takes a huge effort for those in BF wanting to slow YOUR Region 16 yearly screwing ahhh “minor” budget increases with built in surpluses that you then “appropriate” as additional projects that you didnt have the nerve to put in the voted on budgets. Please tell me how the h… are we supposed to block this at the town vote level?? Or is this another of those “How can you make 10 out of 9+4?” math examples you voted to allow to be jammed down our children’s throats???

    As I SPEAKING AS A TOWN CITIZEN _ NOT A BOF MEMBER at your meetings last year on this and many others clearly said that this is just another example of Chatfield getting what he wants (his legacy building) and the town of Prospect taking advantage of BF and it’s residents. You built that freaking Taj Mahal of an elementary school just for your town and graciously threw scraps at LL. Heck for a little more probably could had built big enough to encompass both towns and saved money in the end.

    It is time for Beacon Falls citizens to finally wake up and see what the Region / BOE is doing and the badly mismanagement both monetarily and education wise. It is time to see what Prospect is doing to our town. Many of us have said repeatedly over the years what is going on and have been ridiculed. Fine dont believe us. Dare you to research yourself. Double dare you.