NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The Northbridge Finance Committee made two unanimous decisions at a meeting on Thursday.
Though members support purchase of a Douglas Road building and property as a Department of Public Works facility, they will not support that purchase at the Oct. 23 fall town meeting.
Instead, they are suggesting the Board of Selectmen recommend passing over that town meeting article on Oct. 23 and schedule a special town meeting and election in December asking voters then to purchase the property for $995,000 and approve $2.1 million to renovate the building.
Current plans are to ask voters to purchase the property on Oct. 23, but wait to ask for renovation funds at the spring town meeting next May.
Finance Committee Chairman Salvatore D’Amato said he’s received many calls from voters who say they feel they are being “coerced’’ in purchasing the property now and being asked for more money seven months down the road.
“I agree with them,’’ D’Amato said. “It should be a package deal.’’
But it’s been confirmed, he said, that there is another potential buyer for the property, so delaying the purchase request until next May so it can be presented as a package deal is a risk.
He believes the property owners would be willing to hold the property for the town until December and that voters are more likely to approve the plan if the two pieces are presented together.
“I feel voters will support this at a special election,’’ he said.
Finance Committee member Lisa Ferguson agreed. “I feel it should be a whole project and if voters see the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen showing strong support, they will to. I feel that’s the only way it’s going to pass.
“If we do it in pieces, we’ll be back here doing the same thing in a year,’’ she said.
“I’ve been agonizing over this all week,’’ said Finance Committee member Plato Adams. “This is a big deal. It deserves a special town meeting and election. Let’s do it right.’’
Selectmen Chairman Daniel Nolan attended the meeting but did not comment on the committee’s decision. The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen is Monday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.
Also attending the meeting were Town Manager Theodore Kozak and Department of Public Works Director James Shuris who both said they have confidence in the $2.1 million estimate to renovate the 19,200 building under consideration and will guarantee the project will cost no more than that.