Straight Talk

HONEST talk about local issues!

Truth, Part IV–SAHC prepares to kiss the family ring …

KISS the ringThe ‘Powers that Be’ had only a few days to put their plan in action.  In order to eliminate the Fire House conversion proposal and secure the ‘low ball offer’ for purchase, it would be necessary that the Salisbury Affordable Housing Commission (SAHC) discredit the conversion proposal and the Salisbury Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) approve the purchase offer.

The SAHC was easy.  Its ‘back room’ Chairman, Jim Dresser, was opposed to the conversion and had at his disposal (and command) the Affordable Housing Coordinator, a paid part-time employee of the Town of Salisbury.   He could also count on the assistance of the ‘perceived’ Chairman, Bob Riva.

The Commission met on September 12, only four days after the public hearing.  It was evident that someone had created the questions designed to give them the opportunity to blast holes in the Fire House proposal.  One of the key elements was to wrap the potential sale price of the property into the proposal, thereby inflating price projections to unreasonable levels, making it much easier to dismiss this on the grounds that it was not financially prudent.  It should be noted that Mr. Dresser’s pet project, the old Fitting residence on Millerton Road, is not being subjected to the same criteria in the SAHC’s efforts to market it as a viable plan.

This is amusing considering that the Town did NOT pay any money for the Fire House but did pay substantial money for the Fitting residence, which Mr. Dresser terms to be ‘almost unlivable’.

The following is from the SAHC minutes of September 12 …

There was a discussion of the Selectmen’s Special Meeting of September 8th concerning the sale or possible conversion of the Old Fire House. One of the proposals presented at this meeting was to convert the building into three units of affordable housing. This idea has some merit, but there are still many unknowns as to the real cost to the Town. There was a discussion. Points made included the following:
The real cost to the Town would include the loss of the sale price offered ($475,000), plus the costs of demolition and construction required to create the three units.
The proposal to raise approximately $330,000 to cover the costs of demolition and construction must not be considered in a vacuum. There are other affordable housing initiatives underway in Salisbury which are also seeking contributions from the private sector.

It might be possible to request that the proceeds from the sale, or a portion of the proceeds from the sale, could be contributed to the Affordable Housing Fund.

The actual cost of carrying the property is 12K a year according to the Town Comptroller.

A feasibility study could be done to determine if the property could be converted into housing units.

The estimates for the costs of this project should be verified by an outside source. Then the question to put before the voters would be, “Is this the best way to spend xxx dollars to generate affordable housing?”

B. Riva asked for Public Comments. Garrett Richardson addressed the Commission. She suggested that there might be a private sponsor who would be willing to cover the costs of a feasibility study.

The comment by Ms. Richardson was ignored.  How dare someone suggest interest in this project when those from ‘the family’ were on a mission to ‘kill and deep six it’.

It was now time to pull the puppet strings and get the ‘public’ Chairman and Housing Coordinator busy on their mission to drive the final nails into the coffin of this bothersome idea.

To be continued …

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