SHAFTSBURY -- A group represented by K. Edward "Ed" Corey, of Shaftsbury has negotiated a contract for property next to the current town garage, and wish the town to vote on whether to purchase this land for use as the site of a new town garage during Town Meeting on March 4.
According to a letter to the select board that was dropped off at the Banner offices, Corey negotiated a contract with Peter K. Cross, owner of the tract, known as the former Shea property, for $110,000 -- considerably less than a previously reported asking price of $150,000. The select board had previously tried to acquire this land, but according to current chairwoman Karen Mellinger, the town was told the land was going to be used for other things. According to the letter, which included a copy of the contract, the land had been put on hold by Corey, awaiting the result of the proposed vote.
The request follows residents voting down a proposal to fund the construction of a new town garage on Dec. 3.
Speaking with several members of the select board on Monday night, none of them had been made aware of a letter or a contract regarding the property. One questioned the legality of the document, while another said Corey would need to start a petition to get the issue on the town ballot. A petition would require signatures from five percent of the registered voters of Shaftsbury, according to Town Administrator Margy Becker.
In 2009, Mellinger had negotiated use of that property for storing town equipment, as well as salt and sand. According to minutes from the select board's May 4, 2009, meeting, the board voted to pay Cross $200 a month for May and June, while looking for other options for storing the equipment. It is unclear how long the relationship between Cross and the town lasted.
According to the information left at the Banner, the town's Grand List describes the property's assessed value as $60,700. According to members of the select board, the town had offered $91,000 for the property as recently as the summer of 2012, but had never heard back from Cross regarding their offer, which a select board member described as "negotiable."