At Thursday's BoS work session, there was a long discussion about the building on the town owned Taylor property, and it's future disposition. This came about due to the damage to the roof caused by the recent snowstorm. What investment, if any, should be made to repair the property?
The actual condition of the building structurally is really an unknown. There are certainly considerable exterior defects visible as you drive by, but the town has not undertaken any major inspection of the property other than the environmental review when the asbestos inside was found and removed.
The BoS did decide to go ahead and have the property properly inspected to get an understanding of the overall condition of the building. At least I think they did. They were also adamant that a decision be reached very soon on what to do with it and will ask the Heritage Commission to work on a use plan to find an appropriate purpose that makes economic sense for the community. They want to give the Heritage Commission a fairly short window to make that determination, anywhere from three to twelve months was discussed, but left it to the Heritage Commission to come back with their thoughts when they meet this Monday evening.
A couple of things concern me about this process. I spoke numerous time about the need for a plan for the entire property and funding a conceptual design for a town common. A nice green area in the heart of the village. I was surprised that no one on the BoS mentioned that in the discussion of the building. There is also the issue of the access road to the school. Where should it go? We held off determining that last year, because we did not know how the property as a whole would be used.
Back to basics, we need a plan for the entire village so that the pieces can fit together. I was unclear in watching the BoS discussion whether the town will now reverse it's decision to not sell the property or subdivide it. If the Heritage Commission recommends that it be sold and re purposed for some commercial use, it will require parking and a lot of asphalt to the extent that the possibility of a town common may be forever lost.
Overall, I am disappointed to find that the BoS are seeking a solution without a vision. We should not be moving forward without a firm determination of what we want to do with the entire property, not just the building.
The BoS should work collaboratively with the Heritage Commission, and other interested parties and put together a plan that has a starting point and an end result. Sidewalks, access road, traffic calming, town green, etc. all need to fit together. There was almost a years worth of work by the Village Vision Committee and I fear the report they created and that is now part of the Master Plan, will collect dust on a shelf in the Land Use Office, instead of being used as a living, breathing, road map for the future of the village.