In a 27-7 vote, Dresden voters approved the appropriation of $50,000 from surplus to buy land at 540 Gardiner Road, next to the town office, during a special town meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15.
The town’s short-term plan is to demolish a house and attached garage on the property and extend the town office’s parking lot with gravel, according to a real estate acquisition proposal available at the meeting.
“It would definitely make for good parking in downtown Dresden,” Third Selectman Allan Moeller said.
Long-term, in 10 or more years, the town might pave the parking lot, expand the town office, and put in a septic system, the proposal states.
The town office does not have a septic system. It has a holding tank, Moeller said.
The property has two structures on it. The house and attached garage are in disrepair. An outbuilding might be saved and used for storage.
“The building is uninhabitable at this time. It’s ready to fall in. Parts of it have been falling in,” Moeller said of the house.
“Right now, there is water in the cellar and the place is filled with mold,” he said.
Jeff Pierce, a real estate agent, helped negotiate the purchase price of the property. Pierce chairs the Dresden Planning Board and sits on the Dresden Budget Review Committee and the RSU 2 Board of Directors.
The selectmen said they recently sold a tax-acquired property and have received a bid for another. The combined revenue from those sales, if all goes as planned, would be $70,000. Those funds would go into the town’s surplus and more than offset the purchase of 540 Gardiner Road.
Residents asked several questions, including whether the town needs more parking, how the house would be disposed of, and when the parking would be ready.
Dave Probert, a resident, moderated the meeting.
A resident asked about the cost to tear down the house.
According to Moeller, the town has received two bids for demolishing the building, one for $12,500 and another for $12,900.
“The cost of getting rid of that building is definitely going to be a lot more than we expected,” Moeller said.
He has yet to speak with Dresden Fire Chief Steve Lilly about using the building for a training burn. However, Moeller is not sure if this is a possibility due to the regulations that govern such burns.
“Please don’t burn it,” said Charlie Jenkins, a resident.
The conversation shifted to whether the village has a need for parking.
“I’ve been here about 18 years, and I’ve never had any problems parking over there,” Gary Getchell said. He asked if there is a time when parking is an issue.
According to Moeller, the parking lot is full at 9 a.m. and people sometimes park their vehicles where other vehicles cannot go around them. The town sometimes has to arrange for the removal of vehicles because they are left there all day.
He expects people going to other places in the village, such as the Dresden Take Out, to use the new parking area.
Later in the meeting, resident Peter Walsh expressed support for using the property as a parking lot.
“I’m looking ahead. This would be a step towards fixing up our downtown,” he said.
The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in the village has hosted concerts for more than 20 years, Walsh said. “I’m always worried someone’s going to get hit,” he said.
Another resident asked when the selectmen expect the gravel parking lot to be complete.
Moeller said that if they budget for it this year, it could be done by the end of the summer.
Near the end of the meeting, resident Eleanor Everson said she did not think the warrant article was written correctly, as it should have tax map information.
“The address, 540 Gardiner Road, may be good for now, but 10 years down the line, it may not be recognized,” Everson said, adding that her own address has changed a few times over a few decades.
Dresden Administrative Assistant Michael Henderson looked up the information and the article was amended to include the tax map information.
The final wording of the article was: “To see if the town will vote to appropriate a sum of $50,000 from surplus to purchase real property located at 540 Gardiner Road, or map U1, lot 30, account number 1012.”
Voters approved the amended article.