PARIS — It may not be officially on the market yet, but the town of Paris moved one step closer Monday evening to selling the Mildred M. Fox School property, as well as two parking areas adjacent to the parcel on which the 1882 historic brick building sits.

Townspeople almost unanimously approved the sale of all three adjacent lots, but not before voicing concerns over whether or not the sale would actually benefit the town.

Selectmen Chairman Robert Wessels said that if the sale of the building was to a for-profit entity, then the building would return to the tax rolls, but it would not be taxed if the sale was to a nonprofit entity. Wessel further explained that the rent amount the town is receiving from the current occupant, Oxford Hills Christian Academy, fails to cover the expenses the town faces each month to maintain the property.

Town Manager Amy Bernard said during the recent tax revaluation that the building was assessed at more than a half-million dollars, but that the local real estate market would likely only support a sale of between $140,000 and $160,000.

With the town’s approval, the board may proceed with marketing efforts for the property and determine its next course of action. The board still has to consider issues such as whether or not to include one or both of the adjacent parking areas in the sale.

In 2017, the Maine Department of Transportation is scheduled to review traffic flow patterns on Main Street near Market Square and consider ideas for improving traffic flow through the area, including the possibility of installing a roundabout at the Market Square intersection.

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Voters expressed concern about selling both adjacent parking areas prior to the MDOT plan for the area being finalized, saying that keeping a parking area within walking distance to Market Square may prove valuable should the new MDOT plan remove current parking areas from the downtown area.

Wessels assured the audience members that the selectboard would consider those concerns when deciding how to market the property, but that it needed approval to move forward, and having the authority to at least consider the sale of the parking areas could mean the difference between making or breaking a sale.

After the town approved authorizing the selectmen to proceed with the sale of the property, the selectmen convened their regularly scheduled meeting. Wessels, citing conflicting time commitments, announced that he was resigning his position as chairman of the board effective immediately after the meeting. Vice Chairman Michael Risica will take over Wessels role as chairman, and Wessels will continue as selectman for the remainder of his term.

Wessels’ resignation as chair came on the heels of Bernard’s resignation, which the board formally accepted Monday as well. During the motion to accept Bernard’s resignation, Selectman Samuel Elliot suggested to amend the motion to include the words “with regret” — however, his amendment failed by a 3 to 2 vote.

Bernard said in an Advertiser Democrat article about Bernard’s leaving to accept the town manager’s position in Newry that she didn’t think she had a good working relationship with certain board members, but cited family needs as the reason for her decision.

The board outlined an initial plan to begin the search for a new town manager, which included appointing an interim manager until the board can find suitable candidates.

Bernard’s last day will be Dec. 23.

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