|By G. Michael Dobbs|
WEST SPRINGFIELD – With the approval by the City Council of the purchase of the former Elks property, Mayor Gregory Neffinger said the town can now move forward with the evaluation of the building for its potential use as a temporary home for the town’s library.
Neffinger thanked the seven members of the council who supported the purchase.
Because Hard Rock International gave the city an up-front payment of $400,000 the town only had to pay $50,000 for the 23-acre parcel which includes the former Elks Home building and a pavilion.
Now, Neffinger said city workers could go into the building, assess its physical plant and clean it up. He said some preliminary work has been done including calling state officials about the disabled access status of the present structure. The mayor said the city was told as long as the use of the building was not changed – it is described as “assembly” – the city would not have to invest in an elevator system.
Neffinger added, though, if the city made a certain dollar amount of changes to the building outside “normal repairs,” that would trigger compliance to the provisions of the American with Disabilities Act.
He did say that the addition of rest rooms for the disabled would be an investment the city should make along with a sprinkler system.
The city is still in talks for the Elks Club about the $19,000 in property taxes it owes the town, Neffinger explained. The amount was incurred only when the Elks moved out of the building and the property was no longer deemed non-profit.
“It’s really not fair,” Neffinger said of requiring the Elks to pay any property tax and added the issue is in the hands of the Board of Assessors.
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