Wilton Primary School’s third proposal dropped

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WILTON — Selectmen decided Tuesday to revisit options for the former Wilton Primary school at the next meeting after a third resident withdrew his interest and told the board “now is not the time.”

Michael Wells, who had previously expressed interest in purchasing the empty school for bio-diesel production using vegetable oil, told the board Tuesday that he would not be submitting a proposal for the school because of the business climate in Maine.

While he felt the school was a good building that is structurally sound, his research leads him to believe now is not the time to start a business.

“Maine is not business-friendly,” he told the board.

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Wells was the third party to talk with the board about the school. After putting the school in the hands of a Portland Realtor with no response even after dropping the price, the board entertained the idea of selling the school to Keith Swett for $1 last summer. Swett proposed to turn it into nine apartments.

In August, the board delayed acting on Swett’s proposal after neighbors of the school expressed concerns. The board provided more time for others to submit proposals.

A second offer submitted by Eric Rutberg and Rick Condon proposed turning the property into an alternative school. While the sale price rose to $100,000 in this proposal, it was contingent upon receipt of grant money. The need for a grant raised concerns for the board, which questioned the town’s continued possession of the building during the grant-application process. Some board members also wanted to see a business plan including a market survey, opinions from surrounding neighbors and a balance sheet projecting expenses and income.

Wells then expressed a verbal interest in the school last fall while some members wanted to continue looking at alternatives including selling the school at an auction or demolishing it and selling the lot for redevelopment.

During this process, the neighbors formed a Neighborhood Association and after Wells spoke, some board members were ready to look at the alternatives and make a decision but Selectman Tom Saviello wanted to give the association a chance to suggest other ideas for the school.

The board agreed to invite association members to the next board meeting to discuss the future of the school.

“We need to resolve this before budget time,” said Selectman Paul Gooch, who suggested settling the matter soon, ending the town’s responsibility for the building and putting the property on to the town’s tax rolls.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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