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Town accepts land donation, withdraws from purchase


March 7, 2014
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Within the past weeks, the town acquired some new land and withdrew its intent to purchase the historic white church.

On Feb. 24, the Town Council approved a gift of land from Charles Gonet.

“He [Gonet] has always loved West Springfield and wanted the town to be the beneficiary of the land,” Mayor Edward Sullivan said.

The land consists of six and a half lots, totaling just more than two acres, and is bordered by Upper Virginia Avenue and Maple Heights.

“There are a number of things that the land could be utilized for,” the mayor said, naming a bird sanctuary or a dog park as two possibilities. He said the town is “very appreciative” of the gift.

On Feb. 20, Sullivan withdrew the town’s request from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) to purchase the former Congregational Church, now Rotary Records Inc., 732 Elm St., for $480,000. Former Mayor Gregory Neffinger initiated the request for Community Preservation Act funding in 2013.

In his letter to the CPC, Sullivan wrote, “I base this request on an analysis of the potential benefit to the town, unknown up front repair and maintenance costs, the possibility of alternate ongoing resources required to assist in the preservation of this property and the reality of other town projects, both current and proposed towards which your committee’s resources may be allocated.”

Sullivan told Reminder Publications that he wasn’t going to purchase property without understanding the undertaking – the full spectrum of costs associated with the land – fully.

According to town attorney Simon Brighenti Jr., the owner of Rotary Records has submitted a $20,000 request to the CPC for roof repair. He explained that the request could only be approved with specific conditions regarding the preservation of the building because it is a privately owned property.

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