Friday, November 19, 2004
Greenough tenant to be evicted; task force formed
Under time pressure to exercise an agreement between the town and Greenough tenant Paul Booth, the Selectmen voted to evict Booth from the decaying cottage on the Greenough conservation land off Maple Street. Selectmen Chair Tim Hult proposed that eviction is preferable to being liable for a tenant "in an unsafe building with no heating system." Selectman Tony Allison agreed, "The risk of liability is greater than the risk of vandalism [to the unoccupied barn]."
Tricia Smith of the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) provided some perspective on how her committee arrived at this juncture. She noted that when the ConsCom took over the Greenough conservation land, which includes a cottage and barn, "Paul Booth fell into our laps." Inexperienced in managing housing issues, and unwilling to leave the property unoccupied, the ConsCom allowed Booth to live in the cottage, assuming that repairs would be made in lieu of rent, although an agreement was never reached. "We had a wild hope someone who was a carpenter by trade would replace a broken window pane, but that never happened." She noted the property has undergone a "remarkable rate of decline." John Lee agreed, "The longer he stays, the greater the rate of decline and decay. He is unwilling to make even the slightest repairs for his own comfort."
ConsCom Chair Roy Watson advised against involving the police in the eviction, "I honestly believe he'll pack up if we indicate clearly our intent for him to leave." The commission decided to send a letter.
What to do once tenant's gone?
Selectman John Ballantine then suggested a task force be formed to evaluate alternatives for the house and barn, including tearing down the house, tearing down the house and barn, fixing both, moving one or both, leasing, selling. . . Hult agreed, "We need to put this in intelligent form before [the Spring] Town Meeting. The town needs to be involved in this decision."
Smith expressed relief that the ConsCom might finally be able to "dump this onto a committee that has this as their expertise." She then voiced a plea for on-going help with property management issues her committee faces. Watson agreed, "Something this town needs is a real estate committee." He noted ConsCom is often involved with construction and management issues, including dam reconstruction that "we would like help with." Added Smith, "That way we could give them the Bog House [another ConsCom holding occupied by a tenant], too."
Watson cautioned against getting too optimistic about alternatives for the Greenough property. "The physical location is beyond problematic. The majority of the town doesn't even know where it is." He added "The only lawful access is through Billerica with no parking and the need to cross private land [owned by the Carlisle Conservation Foundation]." He concluded, "Even if we're willing to spend money, what are we really going to do with it?" The Selectmen hope their task force will be able to answer that question.
© 2004 The