No Selectmen Support for Habitat For Humanity Plan for Town Land
Such a move would be fiscally unwise, selectmen say.
Selectmen aren't supporting transferring ownership of town land to Habitat for Humanity, saying that would be fiscally unwise.
Habitat for Humanity of MetroWest/Greater Worcester expressed interest in 1 Upton Road, for an affordable house. The nonprofit was undecided about 45 High St. Ext. due to "issues" there, Westborough Housing Partnership Committee Chairman Steven Liedell said.
Selectmen Chairman Leigh Emery said 1 Upton Road's assessed value is $180,200, while 45 High St. Extension is assessed at $174,700.
Habitat officials expressed their interest at a previous meeting "and we asked for some time to deliberate on it," Emery said.
A request to transfer the property's ownership from Westborough to Habitat would have to be on spring town meeting warrant, she said.
Emery asked selectmen for a motion on Habitat's interest, and heard none.
"I think the reason for that is because we're reluctant at this point to give away town-owned property," Emery said.
"I think we've heard quite clearly from our constituents that they want us to save money, not spent money."
Liedell countered the financial argument.
"They're town land, so the town pays no taxes on the property" and "very difficult lots to build on," he said.
Selectman George Barrette said he walked the Upton Road property, and has site concerns.
Those are "secondary to giving away $180,000," which could fund about "three cruisers, almost an ambulance," he said.
Selectman Timothy Dodd said that "I think even if we were in a position to do that, I'm not sure it's the right parcel for that."
Habitat board member Jyothi Grama said the nonprofit has "built on non-conforming lots" before.
Emery said she would put on the board's next meeting agenda discussing testing the market on the sites.
"I think if we test the market and nothing is there, it's a whole nother story," she said.
"We'll be able to say to our constituents, 'Nobody wanted it.'"