DRESDEN — After more than a half-hour of questions and debate, about two dozen town residents endorsed the plan by town officials to buy the property next to the Town Office on Gardiner Road.

Residents voted 27-7 to authorize spending $50,000 from surplus funds to buy 540 Gardiner Road, the property just north of the Town Office.

The move gives town officials the ability to add to the parking available at the Town Office, and to make arrangements to hook up the building to a septic system. It is now served by a holding tank.

The Dresden Board of Selectmen fielded questions from residents, who wanted to know what impact the purchase would have on town funds and how and when parking would be added.

The property, listed as a 1-acre parcel with a house in Dresden’s property tax commitment, has three structures on it. Town officials have said the house would have to be demolished because of its condition but the other buildings might be saved for storage.

The cost of demolition is estimated at about $12,000.

Third Selectmen Allan Moeller Sr. said the cost is expected to be recouped through the sale of two properties that the town acquired for nonpayment of taxes. One has been sold for $20,000, and officials have received a bid of $50,000 for the other.

Even so, Dresden’s recently completed audit puts the town surplus at about $800,000.

Heather Beasley, a member of Dresden’s Budget Review Committee, said the town had tried to buy the property years ago.

“At that time it was $86,000, I believe,” Beasley said. “We offered $30,000, and it was rejected.”

Beasley said the Budget Review Committee supports the purchase.

The town has valued the house and property at about $64,000. In negotiations with the property owner, town officials arrived at their offer of $50,000.

Peter Walsh said he supports the proposal because he believes in the future of Dresden.

“Right now, our downtown needs some change, some fixing up,” Walsh said.

For 21 years, concerts at the Union Meeting House have drawn people to Dresden, and they are becoming more popular, he said. People park up and down Gardiner Road, and he’s always afraid people will get hit.

“There’s a group of people in town who are talking about having more concerts, two or three a year,” Walsh said. “I am looking ahead to fixing up our downtown because it’s the first thing that people see, and it’s really not going to cost us that much.”

Walsh pointed to the project to add the pickle ball court at Bridge Academy and the volunteers it drew, saying demolishing the building is likely to draw more.

“I do not build anything, but I have a Sawzall and I love to take (buildings) down,” he said. “I’m saying let’s get there. We can take that building down, and we can take trucks and take (the debris) over to Richmond. So I think we can cut into that $12,000 quite a lot, and I will be the first one to be there.”

Town officials and others have noted that parking is in limited supply in the village of Dresden Mills.

“I see this as an insurance policy for the town as well as anything else,” Sylvia Anderson said. “It’s an insurance policy to keep going, regardless of the septic tank, the parking and everything else. It’s ridiculous not to. If somebody else buys it for $50,000, what are they going to put in there that you don’t like?”

Eleanor Everson, who lodged objections earlier this month to the wording of the warrant article at the public hearing about the property, renewed them Wednesday in front of the larger crowd gathered to vote.

Everson said the questions of whether voters want to buy the building should be separated from the request for the money.

First Selectwoman Trudy Foss said the article covers both the approval and the funding in the same article, as they routinely do at the annual town meeting.

Everson also wanted the warrant article changed to reflect a more precise description of the type of property and its tax map details.

Residents approved making those changes in an amendment before they approved the warrant article.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.