Milton should back out of land purchase

December 20, 2013

Just read the article in the Dec. 13 Cape Gazette referencing the purchase of a house by the town of Milton for $150,000 in the historic district:

Milton — Milton Town Council says it's buying a Federal Street property to provide more public parking - even though no one on council yet knows how many parking spaces will be available.

What to do with the 1,472-square-foot historic home on the nearly half acre parcel at 112 Federal St. across from town hall is secondary, said Mayor Marion Jones.

“What we have done is purchase a piece of property,” she said. “Erroneously, it's been noted that we bought a house. The house happens to be on the property.”

I have heard of bumbling excuses, but this takes the cake. The statement the mayor has made sounds like the infamous  "you have to pass the bill to find out  what's in it." There was not one logical response by the mayor or council in this interview.  Milton taxpayers need to look into this in great detail. Taxpayers deserve straight answers.

Vacant land is approximately $75,000 an acre. The town paid $150,000 which equates to four times the going rate. The decision was made to buy this house, but council neglected to bring the proposal publicly until they voted at the November town council meeting. The reason for the secrecy was an alleged competitive bid. In paying the asking price, it suggests this may sound suspect.

Where was the transparency that had been such a key issue for years?

The mayor said she has no ideas how much space would be available or what to do with the house. Prior to this purchase, it would have been prudent to have the area surveyed and mapped to determine the amount of parking spaces available.

There is the bigger issue that council should have anticipated. Because the house is on historic property, it cannot be torn down. It can be moved. In doing so, the town will now have to purchase a vacant piece of property to relocate this house, move the house, pave the parking lot, probably remove the electrical poles in front of the house, and if the town decides to keep this house, add in the cost of also making it ADA compliant. You can be looking at an additional $200,000 plus.

Is this a bad investment? I believe the answer is yes, and that is the consensus of many taxpayers in town. Caveat emptor ( let the buyer beware) mayor and council. What a waste of precious town funds. This was a bad decision with little or no thought behind it. Now is the time to back out of this purchase before the town goes bankrupt over a parking lot.

Fran Fallender

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