New mill owners offer to sell six-acre parcel across from Town Office to Greenwood
Would the town of Greenwood be interested in owning a six-acre lot across Bird Hill Road from the current town office, a lot that is currently part of the Saunders Mill property?
Town selectmen are expected to discuss that possibility at their regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7.
The discussion was prompted by an e-mail the town received last month from Pat Early of Early Real Estate.
“The new owners of the Bird Hill lot would like to make an offer to the town of Greenwood before it is offered to the general public,” Early wrote.
Tuesday's selectmen's meeting will be their first since the e-mail was received, Town Manager Kim Sparks said, so no action has yet been taken on the query.
In addition to its frontage on Bird Hill Road, the lot in question fronts Route 26 and the East Bethel Road.
It has a roughly pentagon shape, but with four much smaller house lots taken out of both its east and west flanks.
The lot is covered largely in scrub woods, except for a dirt parking lot at the corner of Bird Hill Road and Route 26.
The only building currently on it is a two-bay garage facing Route 26, but in years past the site was a busy place, according to Greenwood historian Blaine Mills.
Sometime after 1900, the mill owners leveled the top part of the lot, which had previously been a hilly pasture, Mills said.
There “they eventually built five long dry sheds to store bundled squares,” he said.
“There were two access roads, one from Bird Hill Road, and one from the East Bethel Road.
“Long before my time,” he said, “the company installed gas lights on the upper yard.”
The sheds, he said, were torn down sometime in the 1970s and '80s.”
Since before the Civil War there had also been three houses (photo) along the Route 26 side, Mills said. They were torn down in the early 1950s.
What next for lot?
At one point during negotiations for the recent purchase of the Saunders Brothers mill, which is across Route 26 from the lot in question, the would-be investors asked if the town would be willing to accept another, one-acre parcel of PCB contaminated land that was part of the mill property.
They contended that the liability posed by the contaminated lot made it impossible for them to get the needed bank financing, and that if the lot could be split off and given to the town, it, as a municipality, it would have access to federal funds to clean the lot up.
If the town did not take the lot, they argued, they would not be able to purchase the mill, and many local jobs would be permanently lost.
The mill sale, however, eventually went through without the town acting on the contaminated lot, but as that possibility was being discussed, some residents raised the prospect of the investors “sweetening the pot.”
If the town were to accept the liability that came with the contaminated lot, they argued, the investors should include some parcels that would be of genuine value to the town.
The Bird Hill lot was an obvious candidate.
For example, they said, it would be very suitable as the site for a new town hall and/or town office, should the current buildings – which have serious mold problems – need to be replaced.
But with the mill now safely sold, the contaminated-lot offer is effectively on the back burner (that lot is still on offer to the town, mill co-owner Louse Jonitia told The Citizen recently).
The recent e-mail, however, again raises the prospect of the town acquiring other parcels of mill land.
Town selectmen are expected to pick that discussion up again Tuesday evening, but this time around any land (other than the contaminated lot) the town acquires will come with a price tag.
No figure has yet been mentioned, Sparks said.