Academy School. Keep It? Sell It? Board Of Selectmen Will Discuss Monday Night.

Also on the agenda, the senior center, the creation of a dog park at Bauer Park on the east side of Copse Road, $500,000 STEAP grant for streetscape improvements downtown, and the re-alignment of Copse Road-Fort Path road.


The Board of Selectmen will have a discussion at their meeting tonight, at 7:30 p.m. at town campus, about whether the board thinks the town should keep or sell Academy School.

David Kadamus, a community volunteer who is chairman of the town's Academy Ad Hoc Investigation Committee, said that decision is the main decision that must be made before the town can decide the school's future. The school is located right next to the town green, in an important part of town, adjacent to both the historic district and close to the town's thriving restaurant and retail district.

The investigation committee has held a series of public meetings and has meet many times to gather information and discuss options for the school's future. A report the committee made in September is included with this article.

Also in the agenda at the meeting Monday night is administrative procedures at the senior center, the creation of a dog park at Bauer Park on the east side of Copse road (that won't use town funds, the agenda says), a $500,000 STEAP grant for streetscape improvements downtown, and the re-alignment of Copse Road-Fort Path Road.

The selectmen also will "discuss and take action on the donation of services to develop a trail system within the coastal forest at Constitution Park from Andrew Murphy, an Eagle Scout candidate."


7:15 p.m.        Regular Session (will be adjourned to executive session)

                        1.         Discuss union negotiations:  Facilities


                                    Regular Session

                        2.         Pledge of Allegiance lead by Sean Condrin

3.         Approval of minutes – October 9, 2012 and Special Board of Selectmen meeting of October 11, 2012

4.         First Selectman’s comments

5.         Citizen comments


                        NEW BUSINESS

6.         Discuss and take action on the donation of services to develop a trail system within the coastal forest at Constitution Park from Andrew Murphy, an Eagle Scout candidate.


7.         Discuss and take action on the following resolution:


RESOLVED that Fillmore McPherson, First Selectman, is empowered to execute and deliver in the name and on behalf of the Town of Madison a certain contract with Department of Energy and Environmental Protection of the State of Connecticut for the fulfillment of the America the Beautiful grant, and is authorized to affix the Corporate Seal.  This grant is for an urban forestry project involving the Conservation Commission’s data collection for the Notable Tree Inventory.  Grant funds requested were $2,000.


8.         Discuss and take action on Master Lease Purchase Agreement with CalFirst (California First National Bank).  This replaces an agreement originally entered into with Acme Auto Leasing LLC.



9.         Discuss and take action on a sense of the board to keep or dispose of Academy School.


10.       Discuss administrative procedures for the Senior Center.


11.       Discuss and take action to endorse the creation of a Dog Park at Bauer Park, to be located on the east side of Copse Road.  This does not anticipate the use of Town funds.


12.       Discuss and take action on the Police Department’s request to apply for a Bulletproof Vest Grant.


13.       Discuss and take action on acceptance of a $500,000 grant through the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) for streetscape improvements to the downtown business district.


14.       Discuss and take action on the award of a contract in the amount of $47,850 for the construction of the realignment of the Copse Road-Fort Path Road intersection to Testori Brothers Excavation, LLC of Madison, CT.


15.       Discuss and take action on the award of a contract in the amount of $33,500 for the provision of a 2013 Chevrolet 3500HD four wheel drive rack body utility truck with snow plow package to Northwest Hills Dealerships of Torrington, Connecticut.


16.       The following line transfers are designated as routine and appropriate for approval as a single action by the Board of Selectmen, if so desired.  A Board member may request removal of any line transfer item from the consent agenda for review and discussion.


            Motion:  To approve Line Transfers totaling $21,153.40


17.       Tax Abatements/Refunds


18.       Liaison Reports/Selectmen Comments


19.       Adjournment



Shane October 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Matt - With regards to Griswold, there is a plan and a scope. The town spent a lot of money to purchase that property, so taking a "ready shot" approach would be irresponsible. I would think that you along with every other Madison tax payer would want to see their investment in this park handled with the appropriate level of care and planning, which is exactly what they have done. In the end I'm sure we will end up with a park, ball fields, hiking paths, and a kayak launch that all of Madison can be proud of.
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 12:23 PM
We, the Willoughby's crowd disagree. We don't know what Matt is drinking but we think the town should keep it, keep it, keep it. One of the big mistakes a lot of municipalities make is only dealing with the present and not considering the future needs of our town. It may sound good to people like Matt in the short term to sell it and keep town expenses a little lower for now, but in the long run, current and future tax payers will pay much more / many times over to reacquire this same property or buy elsewhere. Land is a commodity that you can't make more of, especially in a prime central location such as the Academy Street School property. There are lots of options for the town to explore in order to maintain ownership and reduce expenses. For instance: Non profit leases where they can get state and federal grants for clean up and such.
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Maybe the old Academy Street School could be placed on the Historic Building Registry to protect it which would also provide for state and federal grants to refurbish it back up to current building codes if the town doesn't think they want it demolished. If it ends up being sold, condos may arrive putting a financial burden on our public resources to include our schools which eats up the largest percentage of our taxes.
Die Hard October 22, 2012 at 01:09 PM
How about we sell it for 4 million snd then buy it back next year for 7 million?
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Die Hard hit the nail right on the head. Nice!
Matt October 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Jim, I don't disagree that future needs should be taken into account. If there is a legitimate long term requirement, by all means it should be a factor. But I think everyone needs to remember there is a difference between "need" and "want". Things like art studios or a bigger library are "wants". Spending tens of millions in tax dollars for the personal hobbies of a few people is seriously misguided. I would hope you agree with that sentiment. And remember, a state or federal grant paying for things is still our tax dollars. If there is a legitimate need the town has for space now or in the foreseeable future, then they should weigh the cost of the that need. If they feel that need is critical enough to justify tens of millions of dollars, then present that to us and let the voters decide. In all the information presented on this, I haven't seen anything like that. I can't fathom what that need could be (now or future). My feeling is there probably isn't one so that's what my statements are based on. A developer building shops and homes on the site seems like the best option to me. A well planned lifestyle center would be a great addition to the downtown blocks. It could bring in businesses and homeowners or renters. All of which is exponentially good for the town.
Ann October 22, 2012 at 05:24 PM
If there is money available from the state to refurbish protected buildings, Academy would seem to be an ideal candidate. It's at the center of the historic district and, if demolished and replaced by a a contemporary building, it would change the entire feel of downtown. I like the idea of leasing it to the Arts Alliance. We could have a community space for Arts which would be appreciated and probably supported by all age groups, kindergarten through senior.
Janet October 22, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Not when you have to spend $8mm on renovations.
Matt October 22, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Why would town hall need a new facility? This has come up as a possible use a few times, but nobody has ever said why the current town campus is not sufficient. It is a very nice campus with plenty of space. Plus it includes playing fields, tennis courts, the gym, the PD, the TV station, the Arts Barn, etc.
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 07:39 PM
We should keep what we have while we still have it. There is most always a need for town growth in the future. More people plus development = less land available. The future needs of the town will be determined in just that, the future. It would be irresponsible to sell the property now. There are always a few politicians out there who only care about looking good during the time frame they are in office. They don't care what detrimental effects their decisions now will have later when they are long gone. Hope that's not the case in Madison.
Jon October 22, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Yes, this town makes BONEHEAD decisons all the time. Maybe they can sell it and pay 3-4 times what they sold it for, to keep in step with Griswold. SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL IT SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL IT SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jon October 22, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Austin October 22, 2012 at 07:48 PM
A dog park is not going to provide much good to the town of Madison, it will increase taxes on everybody just like Constitution Park, the new ambulance center, and the senior center did. Not everybody can afford tax hikes so the town can afford these unnecessary projects, it is driving the town in the wrong direction. But we can change the direction Madison is moving to a good one by, selling the land Constitution Park is being built on, not approving this dog park, and by approving new taxable developments accept ones that will hurt small business, considerably hurt nicely built neighborhoods, cause a considerable amount of new crime, cause major traffic jams, and cause a lot of pollution. If we do this and keep up with the needs of residents and business Madison will be rapidly growing and be continuously move in a positive direction.
Austin October 22, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I agree
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 08:36 PM
What about thinking outside the box for a change. It appears that the town is about to make a major decision tonight without exploring all possible options. Broker a deal with the State or Federal Government to have them refurbish the building for their office space needs with a very cheap 20 year lease. Win/win for all involved. The building then reverts back to the town if desired with no associated costs. State and federal employees would love the shoreline atmosphere, contribute to the local economy while here and some of there services would likely be beneficial to our residents.
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Matt says: (A developer building shops and homes on the site seems like the best option to me.) That's nice BUT, once the town looses ownership of the building it will be difficult to block proposed uses by the private sector without facing long term and very expensive civil litigation suits. The town should not get caught up in discriminating against good causes and potential uses. A drug treatment center for troubled inner city teens is logical and feasible. It gets them out of the bad climate of their gang banger neighborhoods, into a more tranquil setting for rehabilitation. A Half Way house for parolee inmates to readjust to every day life away from temptation in less desirable locations. Affordable housing apartments for single moms with 5 or more kids who need a break to get their life back on track. There is ample room for an adult movie theater, adult book store and massage parlor along with a drug paraphernalia head shop. Maybe a medical marijuana growers association would be interested in the large space for a big indoor grow.
Austin October 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Let's focus on economic development here. Obviously, medical marijuana growing sites, halfway houses, and adult movie theaters are not good fits for that location but downtown shops such as upper class restaurants, and shops would be a good fit for the academy school and the fields surrounding it. Just because people hear about new development in Madison doesn't mean it will be bad, in fact most new developments would be good.
Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I forgot to include a privately owned high powered firearms indoor shooting range or a commercial storage and trucking company as possibilities.
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM
At meeting now ... board of selectmen in favor of retaining property ... And motion carries unanimously ... There will be a public hearing ... Monday Nov 19.
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Public hearing on academy school will be at 715 pm upper level memorial town hall.
Matt October 23, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Did their discussion include what they foresee doing with it, and who will be paying for it?
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Not tonight ... But I think there may have been some general discussion at the academy committee meetings.
Austin October 23, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I say if the commercial storage and trucking company would be located near an I-95 interchange go for it! But for the shooting range if its regulated and wont bring crime go for it too. Developments are normally good because they bring in tax revenue.
Jim Williams October 23, 2012 at 11:02 AM
A great day for the Town of Madison. THANK YOU all for a very tough but wise decision in everyone's best interest. Good job, nicely done ! We can only hope the few former naysayers join us in this positive celebration
Janet October 27, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Surely no one would buy the Bird land for anything near what the town paid for it.
Janet October 27, 2012 at 10:33 AM
No more bond approvals... period. And no use of reserve funds either for this... This is not a capital need. We have other more urgent needs and not unlimited check books. We are about to get battered again and East Wharf is still not fixed. How about getting some of the main power lines under ground? Instead, we are spending a fortune to move them out of the way of Main Street for aesthetics. We need a serious look at how things are being run and decided here.
Jim Williams October 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Janet: If everyone pitches in and does the right thing, we may not need future bond approvals or at least not as much money out of our pockets. It's anticipated that the Madison Police Union Concessions should get the town tax base back toward what residents can realistically afford. Hopefully the Police Union understands the situation of our town's fiscal responsibility in these times and will adjust accordingly with concessions as the rest of us have had to do in the private sector. Many residents are no so fortunate as to even have a job. Watching carefully to hear the final results of the Town's negotiation with the union.
Janet October 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Jim, whatever the outcome with the unions, we still need to look hard at spending priorities. Refurbishment of Academy for any purpose does not strike me as a priority.
Jim Williams October 27, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Janet. I agree not a priority to refurbish it now. Just to keep the place for future use when things do hopefully get better.
Janet October 27, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Jim, I too am very interested in preserving the quaintness and desirability of Madison. But what would be so terrible about selling the land ( including the fields) to a developer like Avalon, who has a history of building luxury apartments in keeping with the town character. This would bring additional revenue to the town and businesses, and bring more young people to Madison. It is a perfect spot, walking distance to the train and downtown. They would become one of Madison's top 5 taxpayers. It is a narrow view to just account for the appraised value of just the building. Why are those fields a sacred cow? We will now have more fields in our $12mm park. The sale of the building and the fields not only brings sale revenue, but ongoing tax revenue AND economic vitality to town... Vs looking at empty old buildings, however much history they have.


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