SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 18, 2013

Hamilton eyes $4M property

Aquila Farm includes manor house, stables on 80 acres

(Continued)

“Any time a property of this size and location becomes available, it would be a disservice to the town not to look at it,” Stinson said. “There will never be another chance to buy this property. We need to take a long, hard look at this over the next 100 days.”

One idea Stinson has brought forth is to buy the property for various future town needs, maybe senior housing, fields or schools. The portions sold for private development would bring in money toward the purchase of the land, he said.

During a recent selectmen’s meeting, he specifically mentioned the need for a new high school in the future.

He said if a new school were built, the town could relocate students and sell Winthrop and Cutler schools to offset the costs. The ultimate goal of purchasing the property would be to lower tax rates and increase property values, he said. The purchase could also protect open space and popular horse riding trails, Stinson said.

The major questions about the possible purchase include: Can the town afford to spend $4 million? And is 120 days enough time to come up with a plan for a Special Town Meeting?

Stinson said the town would bond the purchase — likely over a 30-year period — which would amount to an average of $200,000 coming out of the budget annually over the course of the bond.

Selectmen also could decide not to pursue the land purchase, Stinson said.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo said the town was notified on Feb. 20 that the owner has a purchase and sale agreement, which started the 120-day clock for the town.

If selectmen decide to move forward with the purchase, Town Meeting would have to approve the deal by a two-thirds margin before June 20.

Selectman David Neill said the committee’s task is to help selectmen decide whether to recommend a purchase to Town Meeting.

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