Board to consider options for Primary School, Tannery building

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WILTON — Selectmen will consider proposals for the Wilton Primary School, the Tannery Building and a final vote on changes to the parking and traffic ordinance at their meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the town office.

Two different options are now on the table for the school property, one for housing the other for salvage/demolition.

After proposing a housing project nearly two years ago, Keith Swett is again offering to buy the property for $1, improve the property and pay taxes on it, he said Monday.  The specifics of his proposed plan may change.  After two years, the work previously completed needs to be done again, he said.

The other option proposed by Downeast Construction involves demolition of the building, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said. The company is currently working on the Forster building on Depot Street and is also submitting a proposal to demolish the tannery building for what they can salvage, she explained.

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After nearly four years of ownership of the school property, the board is looking at every solution and what’s best for the town in the long term, she said.

Attempts by the town to sell the property since 2007 have brought little interest.

During a public hearing on Swett’s proposal for the school property, a few neighbors voiced concerns resulting in the formation of a Neighborhood Association which sought a solution for the property and grants to fund it.

Swett said he has already made a presentation to the board, one that was not voted on. He has met with the neighborhood group and talked with selectmen individually, but he’s not ready to give another presentation, sit through another  comment session like the public hearing, or to provide his financial details for public viewing as requested in a set of questions received from town officials, he said. He has provided a bank letter stating his ability to take on the project, he said.

Swett said he has received “tons of support” from people who want to see the property back on the tax rolls. They aren’t necessarily neighbors to the project and are not motivated to attend the meeting, he said. As of Monday, he wasn’t planning to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

The Wilton Tannery building at 833 U.S. Route 2 was acquired by the town last year for back taxes owed.

The property has been in the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection spotlight for some time, Irish said. Town officials are pleased with the work mostly completed on a Phase I and II hazardous waste assessment. Testing inside the building for asbestos and manufactured chemicals was under way Monday, she said.

Demolition could help prepare the property for development, she said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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