Selectmen to test the market for town-owned house

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

The town-owned home at 35 Wolfe Ave. in Beacon Falls is shown July 14. Officials plan to get market analyses for the house to see what it is worth before deciding whether to sell it. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — Officials are exploring whether to sell the town-owned house at 35 Wolfe Ave., 13 years after voters approved buying the property.

The Board of Selectmen on July 12 agreed to obtain three competitive market analyses to see what the property is worth, before deciding whether to move forward with selling it.

Voters approved buying the 1.5-acre property and house in 2008 for $425,000. At the time, officials planned to build a community center and library on the property. However, those plans never moved forward and the house has fallen into disrepair.

In June, the Planning and Zoning Commission sent a letter as a formal notice to First Selectman Gerard Smith requesting the town clean up the property.

“It’s a unique piece. It’s a unique spot, but I think for us to just keep kicking that ball down the road, and now we got Planning and Zoning citing us for violations. It’s time,” Smith said about looking into selling the property.

The house is the former home of Tracy Lewis, a founder of the former Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company. The home has been used by police officers and firefighters for training over the years, but little else. The town hosts a community garden on the property, which also has a detached garage on it.

The town sought bids last year for selective demolition, remediation and debris removal at the property to clear the way for Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 to use the home for a live burn training. The bids came in higher than the $80,000 officials earmarked for the work, and the town never moved forward the work.

“To me, it seems like we need to cut our losses, we need to sell it, take the cash within reason and just move on,” Smith said. “The person who buys it, we make them clean it up.”

Selectman Christopher Bielik said he wants to see what the market analyses show before moving forward with selling the property.

“Until we have that kind of data, I think it’s in our best interest not to necessarily put all of our cards on the table and say we’re definitely moving forward with selling this thing,” Bielik said. “We don’t know. We can’t make that decision yet. I’m definitely of a mind that getting that data is in our interest.”

Selectman Michael Krenesky, who is also the town historian, said he’s not against selling the property.

“I’d love to see someone purchase the property, rehab the house itself just because of what it is,” Krenesky said, referring to the historic nature of the home.

Smith said it shouldn’t take long to get the market analyses done.