Darien seeking to buy Hoyt Street property
After more than 10 years, the town is actively pursuing a parcel of land next to Holmes Elementary School that is entirely surrounded by town property.
The Board of Selectmen approved the $775,000 purchase of 32 Hoyt St. at its Monday meeting. The Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting will also need to approve the purchase before it is made final.
The property is 0.23 acres and its acquisition, according to Board of Education Chairman Betsy Hagerty-Ross and interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson, would make dropping off and picking up students easier and safer for Holmes students, parents and staff at the school.
If the acquisition is approved, the fate of the house on the site has not been determined. It will either be demolished or an administrative use could be established.
Additionally, Pierson told the selectmen, purchasing the property would provide the Board of Education more flexibility during the facilities study that is underway to determine the best use of the district's buildings and property.
The town attempted to purchase the property in the early 1990s, according to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, "but negotiations fell through."
The property was identified in the 1996 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan as one the town should pursue if the opportunity presented itself.
Members of the Board of Selectmen expressed support for the purchase and also the parents' involvement in the purchase.
According to the board, the town received 15 letters from Holmes Elementary School parents in support of the acquisition.
"It's going to be a long process," said Selectman Gerald Nielsen. "Hopefully, you'll all stay engaged in this."
Selectman Reilly Tierney said it would be a "high cost to pass on this opportunity."
Stevenson told the board and the audience that she knows the Board of Selectmen has been charged with getting town spending "in check" and that the board is working on that but that "land acquisition opportunities shouldn't be passed up."
Stevenson said she personally negotiated price down from just under $990,000 to the current purchase price of $775,000.
"It's a lot of money," Stevenson acknowledged.
Earlier in 2014, the town purchased 4 Short Lane, another property that is entirely surrounded by town property. The house on the property has since been demolished.
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