Falmouth councilors weigh strategies for Brown property

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FALMOUTH — A full agenda kept the Town Council busy until after 10 p.m. Monday.

Among the discussions was how to proceed with the Brown property after receiving public input last month.

The town purchased the 3.3-acre property on Foreside Road in March 2007 for $580,000. At the time, the property, which included an 1,800-square-foot house, was assessed at $260,000 less than the purchase price. A 2008 revaluation put the value at $432,000, still $148,000 less than the town’s acquisition cost.

Originally, councilors planned to carve off a lot containing the house and sell it, but it was determined the house had little value and it was subsequently torn down.

Though several uses were originally discussed for the lot, a harbor study once called for more parking near Town Landing and the council focused its attention on the Brown property as a possible solution.

But few people who attended September’s charette wanted more parking. Instead, suggestions included recreation space, open space and selling all or a portion of it to recover some of the town’s expense.

And councilors’ ideas for the property on Monday ran the gamut, with several expressing the importance of selling off at least a portion, at least one calling for maintaining it as open space at least for the short-term and several who said they would like to see a portion of the property developed as parking.

Councilor Bonny Rodden reminded councilors they must also address issues facing the harbor, but that topic was not on the evening’s agenda.

Council Chairwoman Cathy Breen suggested Town Hall staff prepare several proposals that would include a combination of options on which the council could seek public opinion before bringing a decision to a vote.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said Tuesday he planned to meet with Long Range Planning Director Theo Holtwijk and Police Chief Edward Tolan to discuss possible option “packages” that would address not only the property, but needs of the harbor, too.

“It’s up to us to put it all on paper,” he said.

But any council action on the property would have to be conditioned on its decision regarding the harbor and vice versa, Poore said. The options most likely will not be ready before the council’s December meeting, where it will be workshopped before holding a public hearing and making a decision.

In other business, the Green Ribbon Commission gave a portion of its final report to the council.

In a 40-minute presentation, the group, represented by Ann Goggin and Claudia King, identified Falmouth’s emissions inventory. They plan to come before the council again at the end of November, when they will make recommendations for reducing the town’s emissions in their Climate Action Plan.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net