Does town really need a $60,000 front lawn?

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“Did someone say we’re moving it?” 

That was Mayor Michael Murphy’s response last November when a councilor questioned Alberton’s use of proceeds from the sale of lots in its subdivision to help finance the purchase of a property to the front and to the side of the town hall.

Councilor Natasha Dunn had suggested the $60,000 plus legal fees that it cost to purchase the property, plus the possible cost of moving the buildings of the late Perley Hardy, could have been better spent hiring a recreation director.

The town did subsequently hire a recreation director-events coordinator on a part-time basis and, last month it decided to put the house and building on the former Hardy property out to tender, to be moved.

On Monday night council decided to let the building go to the only bidder for $250 and, with no offers on the table for the house, council voted to put it out to tender for demolition.

At that very meeting when the purchase was questioned Mayor Murphy had said council would set up a committee to decide what to do with the property and promised this: “It’s not going to be demolished.”

But that promise appears to be going out the window. For $60,000 plus legal fees, plus the cost of demolishing a house and leveling the lot, less the $250 for the building, the town is in the process of acquiring a half-acre piece of grass.

The town wanted the property so that it could control what happens, essentially, in the town hall’s front yard. Ironically, most of the current council was in place when, in 2011, a decision was made to build a town hall behind and to the side of a residential property. Now that it owns the residential property, it could exercise some control over the house simply by spending a little more than the cost of demolition on modernizing the home and then renting it out.

Hauling the building to another lot wouldn’t be as easy but it could surely be moved without much hassle from utility wires to a lot in the town-owned subdivision in back of the town hall. That, with the price of a foundation, would be more costly than renovating it where it is, but it might come across as less wasteful than simply tearing it down to make the town hall more noticeable from Church Street.

Geographic location: Church Street

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