You Asked: What Must Temple Sale Proceeds Go Toward?

Selectmen are scheduled to discuss this very question tonight when they meet at Town Hall at 7.

The temple property. Credit: Terry Date
The temple property. Credit: Terry Date

Here is a question — and a comment — we received from a reader:

What is the legal and official use supposed to be for the net funds received by the town from the temple property sale? Some claim the funds must be used in full to pay down the police station debt. Others say it's free to use - maybe some for the artificial turf proposal or for drainage.

We posed the question to Town Administrator Tom Younger:

The net funds for total sale of the property is $1,850,000, he said.

The town will pay off what it owes on the bond it acquired for the original purchase of the temple property.

The town administrator did not have that figure readily available but said there will be money left over, after the bond is paid off.

The town can spend the remaining money on a capital project such as the police station, drainage or fields, he said.

Selectmen are scheduled to vote tonight, Wednesday, on how to use the excess temple property funds, according to the Selectmen's agenda.

leah ryan December 04, 2013 at 07:40 AM
residents were repeatedly told the new police station would be partially funded by the sale of the temple. it would be very upsetting to find this was just part of a pitch to "sell the vote" and never the true intent.
Where did we get the original $3.25 million? We lose $1.4 million and we see it as a windfall? Why don't we start trying to bring down our burn rate in town instead of spending like drunken sailors.
Why don't we use the $1.8 million on a property we can sell for $1 million?
Nospinicus December 04, 2013 at 09:57 AM
Not to be overlooked is the fact that the Town of Swampscott willl lose about $1 million dollars on the purchase/sale of the Temple Israel property. A loss of this magnitude is an orphan with no one held accountable for a real estate transaction that was falsely presented at town meeting and went downhill from there.
Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown December 04, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Remind me again why the town bought the Temple in the first place?
Louis Massei December 04, 2013 at 06:23 PM
The Town of Swampscott purchased the Temple Israel property at 837 Humphrey Street in June 2006. By authorization of a vote of Town Meeting, a Committee was formed to study possible uses for the site. Reinhardt Associates, Inc. was hired as a design consultant to assist the Committee in evaluating adaptive reuse options for the site. The results of the Committee’s findings will be presented to the next session of Town meeting. An evaluation of the existing building’s physical condition and site hazardous material reports were commissioned. The building was found to be an ideal candidate for renovation and the site was found to be free of hazardous material. Adaptive reuse of the site was considered for Town use, private or commercial use or a combination of public and private uses. Police, municipal offices, school administration, recreation, county government and judicial uses were reviewed. Private uses considered were cultural, performing and visual arts, exhibition space, community college classroom space, health club, professional office suites, retail and residential. Compatibility of different use groups, zoning and permitting issues, economic considerations, compatibility with a wellestablished residential neighborhood and costs of renovating the facility were all components of the Study. Demolition of the existing building and redevelopment with new construction was also examined as an option for the site. The redevelopment costs of demolition and building new are more expensive than the renovation costs. Site constraints, zoning restrictions and commercial rental rates do not facilitate economically feasible, new development on this site. The Committee’s general recommendation is that renovation of the building is feasible and cost effective. The best use for the building is for police department headquarters, the space requirements of which fit efficiently in the lower level of the facility. The upper floor levels have the benefit of additional useable space for a community center or a cultural arts center or other Town approved uses. The police and community center uses are compatible with each other, will coexist easily in the same facility and be in harmony with the neighborhood. Additionally, the total cost of acquiring and renovating the lower level of the facility for a police facility is substantially lower than building a new police facility on other Town-owned land. Thus from the perspectives of satisfying an immediate Town need, comparative capital costs, zoning considerations, and neighborhood compatibility, the Temple Israel Committee has determined that the highest and best use for the former Temple Israel property is for a police headquarters facility on the lower level and a Community/Cultural Arts Center for the upper levels. 430 Main Street Agawam, Massachusetts 01001 (413) 786-• • 9600 • FAX (413) 786-8699 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Louis Massei December 04, 2013 at 06:28 PM
The Town of Swampscott was approached in April 2005 by the Board of the Temple Israel to see if the Town was interested in purchasing the property located at 837 Humphrey Street and the parcel located at 70 Atlantic Avenue. In May of 2005, by a Town Meeting Vote, a Committee was formed to study the possible purchase of the properties. By September 2005 the Committee recommended the Town purchase the properties. By town vote a second Committee was established to study the future use of the building if the purchase was successful. The Town purchased the 837 Humphrey Street property in June 2006. In the purchase agreement the Atlantic Avenue parcel was retained by the new congregation. The Town of Swampscott published a request for proposal to hire a consultant to prepare a feasibility study of possible uses of the former Temple Israel site. Reinhardt Associates, Inc. (RAI) was retained by the Town to work with the Re-use Study Committee to prepare this report. The Temple Re-use Committee and RAI, through a series of meetings, established the scope of work, project tasks and a schedule of RAI deliverables.
Nospinicus December 04, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Much of the study for the use of the newly-purchased Temple was made after the purchase. The much touted use as a police station unraveled when it, belatedly, was determined that renovation as a police station was much too costly. The Town of Swampscott has not proven adept in real-estate transactions. Proof: the empty former Temple sat for years before it could be sold at a loss.
Citizen Swamp December 05, 2013 at 07:13 AM
Much of the push for the Town purchase of this property was to protect the well heeled neighbors from the dreaded prospect of building an apartment building on the site. CS
Concerned Resident December 08, 2013 at 03:52 PM
So we have a$6 Million dollar police station built on a dumping ground because the officers themselves preferred that location instead of the empty temple space that was a former house of worship. So lets see, an over priced dump over a former house of worship. Anyone else find this strangely interesting. Lol


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