CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen agreed that further conversations need to take place with the Hoosac Valley Regional School District in regard to the leasing of Cheshire School.
The board members aired their concerns about a draft lease agreement Tuesday and had specific concerns about the district's footprint in the building, its use of the building, and the annual rate it pays.
The K-12 school district lease out a portion of the former elementary school for its central office. Per the current agreement with the town, it pays an annual fee of $10,000.
"They are so undercharged it is embarrassing," Selectman Raymond Killeen said. "When I saw that I thought it was a monthly payment."
These same concerns have been brought up before with the school district. Town officials feels the district should provide the town with more money while members of the school district noted they provide in-kind services in the building and have their own maintenance concerns.
The draft included the addition of three rooms. The Selectmen felt the inclusion of these rooms should bump the price. The number $15,000 was thrown out.
A further concern was that one of these rooms held the building's temperature control. Although the system is not functioning, the Selectmen still wanted control over it.
The Selectmen also had plans for some of these rooms and hoped to use one of the rooms for storage.
Selectman Shawn McGrath said the building costs the town around $65,000 a year to maintain and Killeen said he felt the town should be able to recoup this amount.
He suggested proposing a $25,000 annual fee. He felt it was a good starting point for negotiation.
"I would double it, and let them negotiate," Killeen said. "It is insane to offer it to them for that price. We may as well just give it away. These people will never leave if they are getting this bargain. We are losing big time."
He also suggested that the Selectmen not allow the use of two of the three rooms asked for in the proposal.
He said if the district does not want to negotiate, it can move somewhere else.
"If they come back and say we will find somewhere else, we will mothball the place and we will still probably be a little better off," he said.
Another concern the Selectmen had was the district's alleged tendency to expand its use without asking permission.
"It is a slow creep to take over, but it is a take over they are not coming to us," Selectman Mark Biagini said. "... They are just doing it."
Biagini asked that they discuss the use of some of these rooms with the district.
Other concerns included school district trash removal, parking, janitorial responsibilities, and unsecured doors
In other business, Town Administrator Jennifer Morse said the town will have to hold a special town meeting to pay for some fiscal 2021 invoices.
Also, the Selectmen approved a contract with the contractor who is to complete the Route 8 water main replacement project. The approval is contingent on town counsel's opinion.
The project should begin this week and should be completed in December.
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Paula Kelsey, 77, reportedly went for a walk on Friday morning about 7:25 in the area of Richmond Hill and Windsor Road and has not returned home. It's believed she may have become disoriented and lost her way.
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