Brattleboro OKs Option To Purchase Reformer Property

Nov 18, 2015

The Brattleboro Selectboard has approved an option agreement to purchase the building that is currently occupied by the Brattleboro Reformer.

The board voted 5-0 Tuesday night to move ahead with the agreement that allows the town to purchase the building, and use the approximately 4-acre property as the future site of the Brattleboro Police Department.

Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein says the deal still needs to be approved by the town, but that the option agreement allows the board to open up discussions about the proposal.

"We now have an option agreement that would allow us to purchase the property at 62 Black Mountain Road, where the Brattleboro Reformer currently operates out of, in case we decide both as a board and as a town as a whole that this is the right decision for how we should provide police services going forward," Gartenstein said at Tuesday night's meeting.

The agreement gives the town an option to purchase the property for between $735,000 and $740,000, depending on how long the deal takes to complete.

Under terms of the deal the town would lease a section of  the building back to the Reformer, and the newspaper staff would remain on Black Mountain Road, working next door to the police.

The town will hold a series of informational meetings this winter as it tries to gain support for the plan, which will likely be voted on some time next year.

"We now have an option agreement that would allow us to purchase the property at 62 Black Mountain Road, where the Brattleboro Reformer currently operates out of, in case we decide both as a board and as a town as a whole that this is the right decision for how we should provide police services going forward." David Gartenstein, Brattleboro Selectboard chairman

Town Manager Peter Elwell says the town will pay $20,000, which will give Brattleboro until March 31, 2016, the first option to purchase the property.

After that the town will have to pay another $10,000 to hold  the option until June 30, which Elwell says should give the town time to work out a deal following voters or town meeting approval.

A final $10,000 will be required if the town needs more time, but the agreement terminates on Sept. 30.

The town will pay $720,000, plus half of the option payments applied to the purchase price.

The option agreement is part of a proposed $12.75 million deal to renovate the town's two fire stations, as well as build a new police station.

The town has been trying to replace its crumbling public safety infrastructure for decades.

In October 2012 voters approved a $14.1 million project at a special town meeting, but the Selectboard put the project on hold in 2014 after a town-wide vote rejected the budget with project payments included in it.

The board has been working on a new plan, and the latest option includes moving the police station up to the Reformer property.

The town still has not weighed in on moving the police station out of the Municipal Building, which is downtown.

The town will be holding a series of meetings to gather input on the plan, and the final vote could be headed toward a special town meeting, or a town-wide referendum.