Tremont Nail Factory funding stirs debate

Jan 29, 2014

The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 on Jan. 28 to allow the Municipal Maintenance department to apply for $595,000 in improvements to the Tremont Nail Factory. But, Selectmen did not see eye to eye on the need for the project.

"I wouldn't spend another cent on this place," said Selectman Patrick Tropeano. "The whole thing has been a disaster for us and there comes a point in time where you have to cut your losses, and that time is now."

David Menard, the director for the Municipal Maintenance department applied for Community Preservation Committee funds to fix the failing fire suppression system at the Nail Factory.

Selectman Alan Slavin said any department applying for Community Preservation Committee funds has to receive approval from the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee before applying for the funds.

Menard said the Fire Department would not allow the failing system to be shut down for safety reasons and Selectman Peter Teitelbaum said decisions about fire safety are left to the Fire District.

Teitelbaum said the town could do so much more with the money that is being spent on the factory.

"We bought it for $1.4 million, sunk $250,000 into the roof and are looking at roughly $600,000 [for the fire suppression system]," he said. "We're up to $2.25 million for something that doesn't really house a damn thing at this point."

Selectmen Judith Whiteside, Stephen Holmes and Slavin all had reasons for approving the application.

Slavin noted that the building could be used as part of the town's historical summer celebration when Menard said the project would only take two to four weeks.

Holmes said many people in the town have spent a great deal of time with this building and the Community and Economic Development Authority is looking to take advantage of the site.

"I think we're getting close to doing something here and it would be a shame to let it burn to the ground," he said. Holmes also said there are likely liability issues if the town does not approve the project.

"These funds and the historical district and societies exists so we can make something of these buildings," Whiteside said. "It really should go before the Town Meeting, it's their choice."

Teitelbaum said he would approve fund application, but wouldn't necessarily support the project at Town Meeting.

"I think it's nuts," he said.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said the town still owes $600,000 on property, but could actually save the town money because it is through a callable bond. A callable the bond could be paid off in full next year without any pre-payment penalties.

The one dissenting vote was cast by Tropeano.

"I say tear it down," he said.