Voters Uphold Town’s Obligation to Maintain Exterior of Prescott Building
by Connie Sartini ,
A majority of Spring Town Meeting voters supported the request from the Select Board for an additional $77,000 as funding to maintain and operate the Prescott School as part of the town’s three-year lease agreement with Friends of Prescott. These funds will be used primarily for mowing, plowing and insurance for the historic, town-owned school
The Friends manage and operate the building, with both adult classes and rental units. Currently, according to Friends of Prescott Treasurer Bruce Easom, there are four tenants. He stressed that as tenants rent the space, they are looking for stability. The Friends pay for the utilities, electricity and heat, and the Internet.
Originally, an earlier appropriation of $62,000 was supposed to cover the Town’s obligation over three years, but, according to officials, the first-year costs exceeded earlier estimates.
Resident Joanne Shorn brought copies of the GD Community Ed brochure, the Library brochure and the new Center brochure that provide many different programs for the community. She said, “There are already many things in the community. This started with an additional $62,000, then went to $77,000 and once we start fixing things, how much more will it cost?” She added, “My money looks at needs, not wants.”
Resident Barbara Badstubner told voters, “I totally agree with this last speaker. I can’t afford to keep paying unnecessarily. This is a money pit.”
Finance Committee member Bud Robertson pointed out that this is a partnership with the Town and Friends of Prescott. The funds are for cutting grass and plowing. He pointed out, “The town can vote on this again after three years. The Friends will pay us $20,000 in year three. In three years we will see how well they are doing.”
Although many voters have commented that the town voted not to sell the Prescott School building, Anna Eliot said she wanted to clarify this, stressing that the majority of voters present at the Town Meeting where this was determined, voted to sell the building, but it lost because of a 2/3 majority vote requirement.
Select Board member Alison Manugian added that at that Town Meeting, “We were looking at one offer (to purchase). I have concerns about it costing us more than anticipated. We can’t afford it at this juncture. I can’t support the want of a building.”
Friends of Prescott President Mary Jennings said that the Friends have invested “over $55,000 in the building. We provide different types of education at different times of the day.” She said she was proud to say that there have been over 555 people registered in the various classes.
Jennings advised voters, “An empty building, while it waits to be sold, is a building in danger. It would be a dark building in the center of our community."