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Letter: The Selectmen are Not Listening

July 20, 2016 Government, Opinion No Comments

To the Editor:

Three members of the Canton Board of Selectmen – First Selectman Leslee Hill, Beth Kandrysawtz, and Larry Minichiello — are intent on trying to reconstruct the town Department of Public Works garage on its current site on the Farmington River.  They are doing this despite widespread public opposition, serious site flaws, survey data that should steer them elsewhere, the extensive analysis and recommendations of the Permanent Municipal Building Committee, and the vision of the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

Comments at the recent town public meeting and in the town-wide survey made it abundantly clear what the public wants them to do:

  • Not re-build on the river (56% opposed in survey; 59 spoke or wrote in opposition);
  • Buy 674 Albany Turnpike (67% supported in survey);
  • Reconsider Commerce Drive (122 people stated this in the survey, despite not being asked the question; 18 wrote or spoke in favor; only 8 people spoke or wrote against this site and 6 of them live on one road somewhat near the Industrial Park).

… Continue Reading

Owner of ‘Satan’s Kingdom’ Property Declines Town’s Offer

The town's Public Works Facility at 50 Old River Road.

The town’s Public Works Facility at 50 Old River Road.

Firm to Review Plan to Rebuild Public Works Facility at Current Site

By John Fitts 

The owners of the so-called “Satan’s Kingdom property” have declined the town’s offer to purchase approximately 39 acres for a public works garage, open space and perhaps other amenities.

The town had offered $670,000 for the land at 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44). In a letter to Canton Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner, Daniel K. Bahre, a member of New Hartford Market Place, LLC thanked the town for its offer but stated that it was “At this time we will not be entering into a purchase and sale agreement with the town of Canton as we feel the purchase price offer of $670,000.00 is not in our best interest.”

Bahre did not immediately return a message left at his office.

The owners were seeking $1.2 million for the property but at its most recent meeting, the Board of Selectmen voted to offer the $670,000 based on appraisal done for the town. The town’s offer also came with some conditions, such as voter approval and an open space grant.

In addition to a letter obtained by Compass, first Selectwoman Leslee Hill confirmed that the Route 44 properties were off the table – at least as of now. She said it was declined with no counter offer.

“Therefore, at this point, we cannot consider that location as a viable one for a new DPW facility,” she wrote in a message. … Continue Reading

Canton DPW Garage: How We Got to Today

Guest Commentary by Sarah Faulkner

 The purpose of this article is to clarify the work being done to develop a new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility and provide some facts and data to help folks understand the issue and sentiments in town.

For over six months the Canton Board of Selectmen has been working to develop a plan for a new town garage.  There is no debate about whether or not the town needs one.  It is the highest need of the town and every year that we don’t replace the old one we’re losing money through damage to equipment and deterioration, nevermind awful working conditions for our town crew. The town also must spent money every year to shore up the deteriorating building until a new one can be constructed, pouring “good money after bad”.  The Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC) has long identified the town garage as the town’s top need and has done extensive research on over 80 properties, evaluating and ranking them.  The town has held three referendums on two different sites, turning all of them down.  Each time, the size and scope of the proposed garage has grown smaller and more efficient, but has also lost some functionality (such as drive-through bays).

The Plan to Re-Build on the River

In January, the town DPW presented the Board of Selectmen with a draft plan they developed to re-build the DPW garage on the current site at 50 Old River Road.  This site is on the Farmington River next to the sewage treatment plant.  The proposal is for a greatly scaled-back, more fundamental garage than proposed earlier, designed to fit on the current site space of 1.5 acres, approximately 15,000 sf in size.  It is more than three times the size of the current facility.  Because of site limitations the design calls for an L-shaped building, two stories high along Route 179 including a two-story-tall salt shed, and one story running east-west where the current building is located.  A new access road would be constructed just south of the salt shed and all trucks and cars would enter directly from Route 179 across from the fire station. The old building would be demolished and the new one built in its place. … Continue Reading

Canton’s DPW Garage: What did the Public Say?

Guest Article/Commentary by Sarah Faulkner

The purpose of this article is to summarize and clarify the current status of the Town of Canton’s work toward constructing a new Department of Public Works (DPW) garage.

The last six months have seen an upwelling of urgency to move the town forward in building a new DPW facility.  The Board of Selectmen has identified the need to reconstruct our garage as our top priority, and has solicited public and commission comments to guide selecting a location and design plan.  There have been many meetings, research by the Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC), a public comment meeting, and a public online survey to gather information.

On July 13 the Board of Selectmen voted to make an offer to purchase 674 Albany Turnpike for the new garage.  There are conditions for the purchase and if this site does not proceed, they voted to move forward with the current river location instead.

What did the Public Say?

Comments received from the public came from three sources: written comments to the Selectmen from March through July 2nd; comments; and town-wide electronic survey data and comments which closed on July 7th. … Continue Reading

Selectmen Vote to Make Offer on ‘Satan’s Kingdom’ Property but Develop Contingency to Rebuild Public Works Facility at Current Site

674 Albany Turnpike.

674 Albany Turnpike.

By John Fitts 

On Wednesday evening selectmen voted to offer $670,000 to the owner of the so called ‘Satan’s Kingdom” property along Route 44 but also hatched a back-up plan to further develop a plan to rebuild its public works facility at the current site along the Farmington River.

“Really, tonight we walk out of here with two possibilities,” first selectwoman Leslee Hill said.

In recent months, in the history of a long process to try and replace its aging town garage, officials have weighed a plan to rebuild a facility at 50 Old River Road or purchase the roughly 39 acres at 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44) for a multi-use project. In previous meetings, selectmen had indicated they’d like to come to voters with something for the November vote – while turnout is high for a presidential election. That could be a complete plan at the current site or the purchase of land on Route 44.

On Wednesday night, after a closed-door session, town officials publically disclosed the amount of an appraisal on the latter, for which the owner is asking $1.2 million.

The appraisal, completed by Calciano & Stern Appraisal Associates of Bristol, valued the land at $670,000.

That price was broken down as follows:

  • $108,000 for the home and 1.08 acres of land,
  • $347,000 for 9.38 acres of the flat front portion of land on which the town would want to use for a garage facility and possibly other uses
  • $215,000 for 29.54 acres that could be designated as open space.

The reason for the breakout was that the town could potentially recoup a portion of its costs by selling the home and getting an open space grant, Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner told selectmen.

The appraisal also includes market comparisons.

“It seemed like a reasonable appraisal,” Skinner said,

Selectmen voted to authorize Skinner to offer $670,000 to the property owner. The offer would be contingent on several factors, including town attorney review, voter approval, acceptance of an open space grant and more.

Selectmen also took a second vote, contingent on that offer. Should the owner say no, it authorizes Skinner to contract Fuss & O’Neill at $25,000 to further develop the concept to rebuild at the current site. Earlier this year, the town came up with a concept to build an approximate 15,000 square foot facility at 50 Old River Road that would be closer to Route 179, create a new access from the state highway while also including additional recreation opportunities and formal river access. Officials said they had cleared up questions on floodplain compensation.  … Continue Reading

Town Releases Survey Results, Selectmen to Continue Discussion on Public Works Facility

Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts 

CANTON — More than 900 responders participated in a recent survey on the Public Works facility and the town’s efforts to replace its outdated facility on the banks of the Farmington River.

Most recently the town has explored rebuilding at the current site as well as the idea of a project at 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44).

The survey, selectmen said, was designed to get more input on how people feel about the project in general, past votes and current options. However, several selectmen made it clear that they felt surveys do not always fully reflect the public’s opinion and would not carry the same weight as a vote. (See the results at the end of this article).

And on Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen will continue its discussion on the issue. In addition to the survey, selectmen recently voted to get an appraisal for the Route 44 property to see how that compares to the $1.2 million the owner wants for the 39 acres of land. Town officials said they expect to get that appraisal before the meeting and selectmen will discuss it in executive (closed-door) session at the end of the meeting.  … Continue Reading

Town Hopes to Expand its Skate Park Later This Summer

By John Fitts

Officials hope this new concrete addition to the skate park will come later this summer.

Officials hope this new concrete addition to the skate park will come later this summer.

CANTON — If all goes well at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting this month, the town hopes to expand its skate park later this summer.

In 2014, the town received a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program for improvements at Mills Pond Park. A pool house overhaul, which followed other upgrades at the pool, tennis and basketball resurfacing.

The skate park has taken a little longer and gone through a few iterations. Over time there’s been some changes, adjustments due to cost and a few differences over its look and placement. However, with a final plan on the table, Joshua T. Medeiros, director of Canton Parks and Recreation, is optimistic work could begin in August.

“We’re excited about it,” Medeiros said. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.” … Continue Reading

In Brief: Survey on Public Works Facility Ends Thursday

Photo by John Fitts

The town’s survey related to the Public Works facility will close on July 7.

For years, the town has been looking to replace its aging facility on the banks of the Farmington River at 50 Old River Road. In 2010, voters rejected a plan to purchase property at 5 Cherry Brook Road for $900,000. In late 2012, another garage plan for 5 Cherry Brook – slated to be $6.75 million – never quite made it to referendum after property appraisals came in well below the purchase price for the parcel. Then voters, in May of 2013 and November of 2014, rejected $5.4. million and $4.78 million plans for a facility at 325 Commerce Drive. … Continue Reading

Town Announces Cooling Centers

Submitted Release 

Due to the high temperatures and humidity, The Town of Canton will have Cooling Centers available for residents at the following locations/times:

CANTON COMMUNITY CENTER:   Mon- Fri.-9:00 am -4:30 pm

CANTON LIBRARY:
Mon.-Thurs. 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Fri: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Sat. 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

The Town Cooling Centers have water faucets, but residents are asked to bring their own food.

Please remember to bring medications, emergency contact phone numbers, and any other items you may need during the day.

Service dogs are always welcome.

July 2016 Events at Canton Public Library

Submitted Release 

The following events are scheduled at Canton Public Library in the month of July:

Through Saturday, July 30- “The Art of Michael Toti.” During July and August, prolific collage/assemblage artist Michael Toti will display a diverse selection of his work in the gallery space. Mr. Toti applies his graphic design training, illustration skills, and a love of quirky detail to two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Using a variety of materials — from bits of metal, wood and other found objects, to vintage advertising art, Chinese fans and typography– he arranges and embellishes using wood burning, inking, stamping, painting and other techniques. On opening day, Mr. Toti will be available for conversation from 2-4 PM. Free and open to the public.

Through Sunday, July 31– Summer Reading Programming continues through Friday, August 12. Theme: Choose Your Own Adventure! Children and teens participate for free to earn prizes, treats, and reap the rewards of reading. On the library website, find links for online reading logs as well as loads of information on fun, drop-in activities and other programs.  Which path will you take to discover the best summer ever at the library? Information: call (860) 693-5800, email childrensstaff@cantonpubliclibrary.org, or visit www.cantonpubliclibrary.org. … Continue Reading

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