The city sold $85,200 worth of surplus property Tuesday that will help fill dwindling municipal coffers during a tight budget year.
Councilors also agreed to sell a handful of other parcels, including one by Stafford School that city planners urged officials to keep.
City Councilor Frank Nicastro, who heads the city’s Real Estate Committee, said the city has managed to sell $800,000 worth of property in the last couple of years.
That money, he said, has helped hold down taxes while also increasing the Grand List by adding more taxable land and buildings to the rolls.
The biggest sale was a decrepit house at 406 Broad St. that the city acquired in June when its former owner fell way behind on taxes.
Councilors agreed to sell it to Michael Baillargeon for $55,200 on the condition that he keep it as a single-family house. Officials said he plans to restore it.
The only other bidder offered $30,000, Nicastro said.
The city also sold Lot 199 on Main Street, near the High Street library, for $30,000 to Joseph Geladino, a former Republican candidate for public office.
“This was the best offer we had,” Nicastro said.
What proved most controversial, though, wasn’t the sale of the two parcels.
It was instead whether to overrule the Planning Commission’s recommendation to hang on to a building lot on the east side of Morris Avenue.
Nicastro and other councilors said they are confident the city can sell it to someone who would build a house on it.
But planners said the city ought to keep it as a pathway from Morris Avenue to Stafford School, a route that children used in the past with some frequency.
As recently as 18 months ago, the Board of Education urged the city to keep it.
But this summer, educators said they didn’t care if it was sold because children don’t use it anymore and the addition of two new schools makes it exceedingly unlikely that Stafford School will ever be expanded.
Planners said, though, that the city ought to keep it anyway because conditions could someday change.
City Councilor Craig Minor said he thought selling it would be fine. But, he said, he was “really troubled” at the notion of overruling the planning board.
In the end, he voted to keep the land, a decision that city Councilor Mike Rimcoski also favored. Rimcoski said he hated going against the planners.
But on a 5-2 vote that saw the rest of the council reject the planning recommendation – more than the two-thirds required to overrule the panel – councilors agreed to try to sell the lot.
“Let’s get the money,” said city Councilor Ken Cockayne.
Mayor Art Ward said that officials have been eyeing the lot for possible sale for at least four years and because there is “no future use anticipated” it made no sense to keep it.
“It’s time to let the property go,” said city Councilor Cliff Block.
The city also intends to try to sell property on Belmont Street, Kilmartin Avenue, and Brewster and Town Line roads.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org