SWL: Golf Course deal will cost Town $450K more

by beth on November 27, 2017

Post image for SWL: Golf Course deal will cost Town $450K more

Above: Southborough officials will soon sign off on the P&S securing the St. Mark’s Golf Course. But the deal will cost more than originally estimated. (photo by Katie Ferguson, posted with permission)

Last week, the Board of Selectmen discussed the updated status of the Town’s deal with St. Mark’s School. The Purchase and Sale agreement had gone through some changes since the public voted to support it last spring.

Southborough Wicked Local covered the meeting. According to the story, the Town will pay $449,000 more than the $4.5 million originally pitched to voters. (It’s an almost 10% increase, in the P&S. But it’s only a 1⅔% increase in the overall public safety building project, which had been estimated at $27.1 million.)

Part of the deal change is due to the school dropping it’s interest in acquiring the 1.63 acre “stump dump” on School Street. The other $299,000 of it is to pay for future demolition “and remediation” of the current public safety stations.

SWL writes:

The town expects to close on the 60-acre property the first week of December. . .

[In March], the town agreed to pay St. Mark’s $4.5 million for the course, with the school getting the police and fire station land on Main Street and a small parcel on School Street in a land swap.

After a survey of the land, the school’s trustees decided to nix the School Street land from the deal. The purchase and sale agreement allowed for changes, according to town officials.

“That due diligence was always going to take place,” said selectmen Chairman Dan Kolenda.

He said the $4.5 million price tag was a “good faith estimate” with a full analysis unable to be done in time for the Town Meeting. The new price is $4,949,000 for the course. . .

The town is able to pay for the $450,000 increase through a loan authorization previously approved for other projects that came in less than expected. The rest of the project will be paid for through a debt-exclusion override approved in the town’s annual election in May.

The article also covers the state’s involvement, including the legislature’s overriding of the Governor’s veto of a $100K earmark for the project. Read more here.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arborist November 27, 2017 at 11:44 AM

Is the Town being taken for a ride here? , That’s their problem for demolition cost. Not the towns

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2 Frank Crowell November 27, 2017 at 1:40 PM

My guess is that the demolition was part of the P+S. Not sure if this was discussed during TM but it probably should have been.

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3 n November 27, 2017 at 1:20 PM

I’m concerned that what we were asked to approve at the STM on 2/7/2017 was represented to be transferring “two Town parcels to St. Mark’s along with $4.5M in cash”, not maybe two parcels or one parcel.

At one of the presentations I believe it was represented that the town would not need to pay for the demolition and how that was a good thing because of the uncertainty of how much it would cost… Someone with the time could find the video clip.

Section from the summary of article 1: This article will authorize the Board of Selectmen to execute the Purchase and Sale agreement that they have negotiated with St. Mark’s School on behalf of the Town. The agreement will transfer two Town parcels to St. Mark’s, along with $4.5M in cash, in exchange for the entirety of the St. Mark’s Golf Course.

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4 n November 28, 2017 at 2:57 PM

And a bit more context from the Town website (https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/southboroughma/files/uploads/20171115_history_of_st_marks_ps_171109.v2.pdf)

In order to address this change in the P&S, the Finance Director has noted that an approved loan authorization exists that originated in 1998 for the purchase of real property. The authorization was initially for $5M and was used for some minor school costs, amended in 2001 thru Town Meeting to have a conservation component, and used again during the acquisition of the Chestnut Hill property in 2006. A balance of $2.6M remains for the authorization.

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5 southsider November 28, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Interesting!
So 11 years after any of it was last spent they think no one will mind if they spend money originally approved in 1998 simply because it hadn’t been spent yet.
Have I mis-read this?
I certainly hope the remaining balance gets into the General Fund.
I guess all future requests of this nature need to be amended to include a “put it back” date.

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6 Arborist November 27, 2017 at 3:13 PM

something smells rotten here, not what we voters voted on, I am appalled, was the STM a bait and switch from the get go!

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7 SB Resident November 27, 2017 at 5:57 PM

In negotiations, there is supposed to be trade offs, if they get something, we should too. There is room for a solid 10 buildable lots along latisquama. We should change the contract so that we can sell off those lots. Each could sell for at least 200k (arguably more) and make back at least 2 million. I personally feel that it would help complete the feel of the latisquama/birchwood neighborhood. We could still keep the rest of the land as open space, have room for the public safety complex, hurt nothing in terms of look and feel of the town and take some of the sting out of the huge price tag this whole thing is costing.

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8 Frank Crowell November 28, 2017 at 2:03 PM

“In negotiations, there is supposed to be trade offs,…..” Over the past 18 years there is no evidence that any elected official in Southborough can drive a hard bargain with any educational entity. That includes Saint Mark’s, Fay School and the Teacher’s union. Of course the voting public puts them in a bad position and the other side reads the papers. Southborough has always said yes to the school budgets/teacher’s contracts and preserving open land (except when Fay and Saint Mark’s wants to build). There is no walk away position.

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9 Kelly Roney November 27, 2017 at 10:59 PM

This is not what I voted for. Never mind that there was money sitting there off budget (!!), did Town Meeting legally authorize this expenditure? I don’t think so.

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10 Dick Tibert November 28, 2017 at 10:42 AM

There has obviously been slop in the swap. This town is in dire need of professional negotiators.

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11 Al Hamilton November 29, 2017 at 1:33 PM

I would humbly submit that perhaps the town should walk away from the modified plan and return to the original plan of taking by eminent domain a portion of the St Marks meadow. The cost of the structure would be lower. Of course this will not happen as the BOS lacks the required fortitude.

This is really sad, it may be legal but that does not make it right. The voters of this community have been consistently generous and the BOS has just thumbed their noses at them. If you are not happy about this your only option in the near term is at the ballot box.

Perhaps in the future we need a by law that sunsets all debt authorizations 5 or 6 years after they are authorized. Only 10 signatures required for the ATM or about 100 to force a STM.

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12 louise barron November 29, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Like the song goes.. “This is only the beginning”….. of overages. The “TAJ” (municipal building) will come in more like $40, 000,000. You voted for this, ridiculously extravagant complex.. Now reap what you sow.

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13 D. McGee November 30, 2017 at 8:04 AM

As the song goes…
“…Your old road is rapidly agein’
Please get outta the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’ “

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14 Frank Crowell November 30, 2017 at 12:47 PM

I assume that those lyrics apply to SB residents who do not wish the town to overspend as well as all Americans who cannot accept the election results of a year ago.

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15 David Parry November 29, 2017 at 8:24 PM

Yet another hoodwink of town meeting by Kolenda.

Confirmed by his statement which is really indefensible _ “There was insufficient time for a full analysis before town meeting.”. In fact there were many months inactivity, and no attempt at a full analysis.

We were never told the agreeement was “flexible”.

We were told that demolition of the existing (old) fire station was the obligation of St Marks School , and that was such a GREAT deal for the town because we had no idea what hazardous materials might br buried and be costly to remove …

And on and on.

However, in spite of this lack of due diligence, we are still better off with the golf course in our possession.

It is just so disappointing to see the misrepresentation of important facts, and a lack of honesty.

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