Singer Center tenant to set rent

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It would be a dream come true for most renters to be able to set the rent amount according to what is affordable.

However, for Before & After School Care, the primary tenant at the Singer Center, the rent was only $1. That is a bargain that is hard to beat.

Before & After School Care uses the facility, also referred to as the Naples Grange Hall, during the hours of 6:15 to 8 a.m., and from 3 to 6 p.m. during the school year. Kim Litchfield manages the program that has been in existence for about a decade.

The Naples Board of Selectmen has been reviewing the lease agreement for the Singer Center. Twice, the board has voted to table the contract. In early August, the item was tabled because Litchfield was not present. In late August, it was tabled until some details were nailed down including the rent amount.

So, the lease agreement will be visited again during the selectmen’s meeting on Sept. 10.

“We don’t have a rent amount. In the past, it’s been $1,” Litchfield said on Aug. 27.

Naples Town Manager John Hawley said, “None of our fees schedules cover the cost of the building.”

Chairman Jim Grattelo spoke.

“The issue is that the taxpayers are subsidizing your daycare. Not just you, there are others that we have discovered,” Grattelo said, referring to fitness instructors renting the gym at no cost.

“The taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize a business,” Grattelo said.

Litchfield responded.

“We don’t mind paying what we need to pay. We have been there for nine years. We can pay, depending on what you ask,” she said.

The chairman had the floor again.

“Why don’t you present us with a number greater than $1 and less than $10 million dollars,” Grattelo half-joked.

The motion was made to table the signing of the lease until the next meeting on Sept. 10. There was a 4–0 vote to do so. Selectman Kevin Rogers was absent.

“You are going to come up with a number for rent,” Grattelo clarified.

During the discussion, other details were touched upon.

Before & After School Care pays half the utilities. Most likely, it will continue to split those 50–50 with the town.

Litchfield brought up some repairs that she hopes could be done.

“The chimney needs to be taken down. It needed to be taken down four years ago. When it rains, it leaks,” she said.

“We want to fix the tile. We have no trouble if you want us to give the money toward the materials,” she said.

She referred to her copy of the lease agreement.

“Obviously if we break something, we will fix it. The way this is worded, it seems like we are liable for everything,” she said.

She explained that when the facility is rented over the weekend, there have been times that the people using it turned the heat down and then the pipes were frozen on Monday morning. She wanted to make certain, she did not have to pay for others’ mistakes.

“If you want a liability clause, we can do that,” Hawley said.

Grattelo asked about her insurance coverage, if it not only covered the children in the program but also the building while the program was in session.

Grattelo asked, “How often do we rent that building?”

Litchfield answered, “Quite a lot on the weekend.”

Hawley confirmed that the facility is rented on the weekends, and it has never been rented during the day on Monday through Friday.

Litchfield said that in the past, she never received a heads-up from the town that there was going to a birthday party or other gathering. She said it would be helpful to know so she could stack chairs and make more room.

“I think you are going to find the communication from Peter [Ceprano] and John [Hawley] will be good,” Grattelo said.

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