Freeport Community Services pays off loan to town

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FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday approved a lease and deed to 53-55 Depot St. for Freeport Community Services, after the agency repaid the final $30,000 of a loan from the town.

For the past six years, FCS has been raising funds to support the Freeport Community Center and to pay off the loan that made construction of the building possible.

The original loan was approved for $750,000, but Town Manager Dale Olmstead said with fundraising and loan forgiveness, FCS actually borrowed about $600,000. Last September the council voted to forgive about $117,000 of the loan: $52,000 in interest was applied to the principal, the council eliminated any further interest and, with the stipulation the Community Center Campaign Committee could raise $65,000, councilors forgave another $65,000.

The council voted 6-0 Tuesday night for the lease and deed, although Councilor Eric Pandora said he opposed the process. Councilor Joe Migliaccio was excused from the meeting and Councilor Sara Gideon disclosed she is a member of the FCS board.

Councilors did not receive the final drafts of the deed and lease agreements until the middle of the meeting. Attorney Robert Stevens, representing FCS, said there were minor changes made Tuesday morning.

Olmstead while said the property is now owned by FCS, many of the space and use policies will remain unchanged.

The town still has priority for use of the large meeting rooms and small conference room, as long as a list of meetings is provided in advance to FCS. When unexpected meetings occur, the town will have priority to reserve the space and will have exclusive use of the archive space.

Instead of the town paying 50 percent of the FCS operating budget, as it did in the past, the lease includes a yearly town contribution of $35,000. Each year the amount will be adjusted by the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index.

The town will also pay $5,000 into a capital reserve account that FCS will maintain and match each year.

“This lease agreement takes away the uncertainty of change in operating expenses and makes it easier to plan a budget,” Olmstead said.

Another change is that the town will reserve ownership of 22 of the 55 parking spaces at the Community Center, even if the Community Center ever moves.

Many of the spaces are leased to merchants and generate revenue for the town, Olmstead said. The town will plow the entire parking lot and maintenance will be a shared responsibility of the town and FCS.

FCS Executive Director Bob Lyman said the FCS board and Campaign Committee were thrilled by the council vote.

“We are so pleased that the Pownal and Freeport communities were so responsive to the capital campaign,” he said. “We had an outpouring, a great response.”

The council next meets on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. to vote on the capital and operating budgets.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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