Milford to petition for emergency meeting Town will ask voters to OK property purchase

MILFORD – Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to petition New Hampshire Superior Court for a special meeting to purchase property on Elm Street adjacent to Keyes Field.

The 5.8 acres, at 127 Elm St., is owned by the Mayo Group, of Boston, and has a large building that was most recently the home of the Pennichuck Brewing Company, but is commonly called the Permattach building, because of its former owner, the Permattach Diamond Tool Corporation.

Ownership of the property would solve several short- and long-term problems, said Town Administrator Guy Scaife, the most critical being the lack of secondary access to Keyes Park during the Superfund cleanup.

Keyes Drive, the roadway to the park, will be unusable during the cleanup and without another road, the park would have to close.

The Fletcher Site Superfund cleanup is now scheduled for 2015, and could last for two years, meaning that without another road, the park could be closed for two years.

Keyes Drive “is the only access to our most important recreational facility,” Scaife said.

The town had an easement agreement with the Mayo Group that would have given the town access during the federal cleanup, but the agreement expired in 2012. Now, the company does not want to sign another agreement, because it wants to sell the property, Scaife said.

The town will need to petition superior court for an emergency meeting, and if the court grants permission, there must be a public hearing and a Deliberative Session prior to the vote on Sept. 9, primary election day.

The property’s assessed value is $498,000, and the difference between the selling price and assessed value would be considered a donation to the town.

“We need to start the ball rolling,” Scaife said in a phone interview Monday, April 14, because a lot of public discussion should happen prior to the vote.

The Mayo Group approached the town about buying the property last month, he said, and they were very clear that they want to sell it this year.

The terms of the agreement, $190,000 cash, plus forgiveness of about $88,000 in back taxes, would hold only if the town buys the property this year.

“It will be great for us if we get it at this price” for several reasons, Scaife said, including the historical shortage of parking at Keyes Park and the town’s long-term wish to have a place to eventually build a community center that could serve as a senior center and recreation center. Plus, the property has enough room for one or two fields.

But right now access to Keyes is “absolutely critical,” he said.

Selectmen have been discussing the possible purchase in nonpublic session, and there is no formal agreement yet with Mayo, Scaife said, just a “handshake” on the terms of a future agreement.

An agreement with would be contingent on Mayo totally cleaning up the environmental issues on the property, he said, and receiving a confirmation letter from the state Department of Environmental Services.

Town attorney Bill Drescher will petition superior court, and the only thing the court will consider, Scaife said, is whether it meets the definition of an emergency.

“If the court doesn’t see it as an emergency, everything stops,” Scaife said. The town should have the court’s decision by May 5.

Tim Finan, of the Recreation Commission, told selectmen Monday night that the property’s location abutting the west side of Keyes makes it a perfect piece of land that “almost looks like a missing puzzle piece.”

Ownership of the property would not only allow for the creation of more sports fields, he said, it might also allow room for realignment of existing fields so more could fit.

Finan also said the Recreation Commission will try to raise as much money as possible through fundraising.

In a document explaining the purchase plan, Scaife wrote that if the “entire cash outlay requirement of $190,000 … could be raised this summer totally through donations, there would be no requirement for taxpayer funding.”

Purchase of the property would be contingent on voter approval and a Mayo agreement that the company would cleanup the site.

“The property owner has already submitted a work plan to DES,” Scaife wrote. “The Mayo Group has committed – as a condition of the sale – to have this issue totally resolved prior to our acquisition.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.