Naples voters okay money to buy property

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The fiscally wise individual sometimes offsets a major purchase by selling an unwanted or seldom used item.

Voters attending the Naples Special Town Meeting approved the allocation of two expenditures.

One sum of money ($15,000) was for the improvement of the bathrooms including showers and new plumbing in the gymnasium. The other monetary allocation ($185,000) would provide the end to a lawsuit by allowing the town to buy the property adjacent to the Naples Fire Station.

Basically, both of these expenditures were unexpected and therefore not included in the Naples Town Budget for fiscal year 2014 through 2015. Therefore, a special town meeting was required to okay these monetary changes to the town’s budget. That happened on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

The first discussion occurred during the warrant article to release funding to purchase the lot next to the local fire station.

According to members of the Naples Board of Selectmen, the cost incurred from the real estate purchase would be balanced with the sale of town-owned properties.

“We banged this around for a while. The only way to make our money back is to sell other land the town owns. That is the only way we would approve it and bring it forward to the townspeople —is to sell the land to offset the cost of this purchase,” Chairman Robert Caron II said.

The purchase of the property at 1074 Roosevelt Trail is the solution for a lawsuit against the Town of Naples and P&K Sand and Gravel, Inc. Also, money paid out by the insurance companies of both the town and P&K will be used for the purchase.

During the special town meeting, Selectman Rick Paraschak provided a quick history of the litigation, which began three years ago.

After Robert Begin, the owner of the home, died, the estate fell into the hands of relatives, he said. The new owners of the estate had hoped to sell the property, but when the well was checked it was discovered that the water had been contaminated with salt, he said.

“Anytime salt is discovered in a well, people go to the town or the state because they think” that the responsible party is the one doing wintertime road maintenance, Paraschak said.

“Both fire station wells were tested and came out clean,” he said, adding that the town’s salt shed was constructed according to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) standards, and designed to contain the salt used on roads.

At one point, P&K was added to the lawsuit because the company was contracted by the town for snow removal services.

“We wanted to investigate it further, but when insurance companies get together — they want to settle the case,” Paraschak said.

“So, three parties went into mediation —‘ P&K owner Bruce Plummer, Derek Goodine for the town, and the lawyer for the Begin estate.

The estate’s attorney requested that the town and P&K not only pay for a new well and infiltration system, but also ensure the water quality for 10 years. Repairing the bathroom plumbing and the kitchen sink were also on the list.

“It was close to $50,000 or $60,000. What the town officials didn’t like is that we had to guarantee water quality of the well for 10 years,” Paraschak said.

“We were afraid of costs escalating,” he said.

“Collaboratively, we thought about buying the property. We don’t need the property right now,” he said.

For the time being, the $185,000, which includes below market price and closing costs, will come from the Undesignated Fund Balance. The warrant article was to allow the town to use the money in this manner — if the purchase of the property and home was a sound deal.

The allocation of money for the outdated bathroom in the town gymnasium will allow the town to put the job out to bid. The bathrooms will be modernized, which is important since the gym can be used as a Red Cross Emergency center.

Also, a plumbing problem in the pipes had allowed water to leak into the former town manager’s office. That damage will be fixed, too.

 

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