Gilead to negotiate for garage
Gilead voters said “yes” Saturday to negotiating a purchase price for Cole’s Custom Auto garage on Route 2.
By a secret-ballot tally of 29-19, residents at the special Town Meeting authorized selectmen to negotiate with owner Ken Cole or his agent. The 40-by-70-square-foot building has a current asking price of $159,900, and is listed by Maine Street Realty.
After a price is set, another meeting will be called to decide whether or not to actually buy the building.
If voters ultimately decide to buy, the building would serve as a town garage. Gilead's highway equipment is currently garaged at the Fire Station, or sits outside.
Selectman Fran Head, who is also the owner of Maine Street Realty, said she would not participate in negotiations, vote on a price, or even vote at Saturday’s meeting.
She also said her daughter, Shannan Thielbar, is the broker with the listing on the property and would be the one to receive any commission.
Some residents wondered if the town would be in a better negotiating position if it retained its own realtor for representation.
Susie Dixon, a realtor herself, said Gilead would be better served by a professional. But, she said, she was not seeking that role.
"Properties that are distressed in this market, and this market the way it is, sometimes a list price could be one third less a couple of months from now," she said. "I'm not looking for a job. I just think the town should have, just like you would have legal representation if you were in a lawsuit, a professional in real estate who would be advising you."
Head replied that while another realtor could represent the town, “We are not splitting the commission. Thielbar, she said, "has worked too hard and show too many other people the property to ask her to give up the commission because you want representation.”
Selectman Jeremy Morin said he did not personally favor buying the building, “but if I’m asked to negotiate, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Some questioned Head’s role in initially bringing the property to the board's attention. She said she had been asked to bring the listing information “by several citizens, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Darlene Corriveau wondered why the people who asked her did not present the idea themselves.
“I have no idea,” replied Head.
One resident expressed concern that the circumstances were "not proper," and that a committee had not been formed to first study the need for a garage and the options available. She also said she was hesitant about the town making purchases in the current economy. “I don’t think it’s wise to go more into debt at this time,” she said.
Gilead, with a population of a little more than 200, currently owes $168,482.
Thielbar, who also attended the meeting, said she has had “a lot of interest” in the garage, but no written offers so far. It has been on the market for about two months, she said.
The meeting was moderated by Alicia McLean and lasted about half an hour.