T he town board decided against moving into the LaFlamme’s building at last week’s monthly meeting, meaning the long search for a home continues.
The board unanimously rejected an offer to move into the building at 120 Main St,, which owned by Brenda and Stan Woodruff, despite the support of the move by supervisor-elect George Armstrong. LaFlamme’s is moving to the former Aubuchon Hardware building on Route 4.
Brenda Woodruff said the following day that the building is still available to the town.
The offer made to the town was to rent the building for one year at the rate of $1,000 a month including heat (increases in fuel prices would have triggered an increase in rent) or purchase the building outright for $120,000.
The rental agreement would apply to the first floor space currently occupied by the appliance store. Brenda Woodruff said additional space, such as the former site of W.T. Burns Insurance Agency could also be rented at an additional charge.
Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon initially seemed in favor of renting the building, telling the board he “would like to see the new administration start out in their own building,” a sentiment shared by town councilman Richard LaChapelle.
“Let’s get this done for the new board,” LaChapelle said.
Armstrong, who will become supervisor at the beginning of the year, expressed he was in favor moving to the building and doing so right away.
However the board seemed to have a change of heart after several concerns were raised by those in attendance.
Several people in attendance were concerned about whether the building was handicapped accessible
Questions were raised as to whether a wheel chair could fit through the front door and if the front step would require a wheelchair ramp. There were also questions as to whether modifications would need to be made to the first floor bathroom to make it accessible to the handicapped.
Brenda Woodruff addressed some of those concerns last Thursday saying wheelcahirs have been in and out of the building and that LaFlamme’s has frequently moved large appliances in and out of the front door.
She also said a handicap ramp wouldn’t be a problem to install and she and her husband would be willing to address the bathroom with town officials.
“We can address any issues that come up. We’re always available,” she said.
The town has been searching for a building for several years and the frustration is beginning to reach its tipping point.
“I’m tired of this tennis ball going back and forth,” Prefountaine said.
In the past year the town has considered moving to the Armory (which has since been purchased and discussed as a site for an athletic club), the former Garden Time building and the Skenesborough Fire House, twice.
The town board voted more than a year ago to move to the fire company but the deal fell apart after several councilman expressed concerns about the potential for the building to revert to the village if they fire company ever dissolved.
Those problems appeared fixed earlier this summer after the village agreed to remove the “reverter clause” if the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company dissolved and the town made paid $20,000 a year, capped at $150,000 to the jointly created fire company.
However, that agreement appears to have fallen apart last month after the fire company voted against dissolving.
Asked last week why they wouldn’t move to the building with the “reverter clause” still in place councilman David Hollister said he didn’t want to invest money into improving the building only to be forced to move later.
Gordon reiterated his belief that the fire company was still the best place to be if circumstances surrounding the move were different but the Woodruffs’ building could be a viable alternative in the interim.
“If it’s leased who knows what happens with the fire company. Maybe it gets resolved,” Gordon said.
Armstrong said waiting for a resolution to the fire company could be a long process.
“One reason I’m in favor of LaFlamme’s is the timing. If it becomes a legal matter involving lawyers there’s no way it can go fast.”
In the end, however, concerns over the building and how to handle them were enough to persuade the board against moving to LaFlamme’s.
Both LaChapelle and fellow councilman Farrell Prefountaine said those issues would need to be resolved before they could consider moving into the building. Gordon, who presented the motion to move to the building, ultimately sided with the rest of the board.
For her part, Woodruff said the there’s no firm deadline to come to an agreement and the offer still stands if the town council changes its mind.
In the meantime the town will remain without a permanent home and will stay in the Canal Corp’s Visitors’ Center.
. For how long, remains to be seen.