February 9, 2010 : Belchertown-News.com, by Michael Seward
The Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) met with Tony and Joan Almeida to discuss their proposal to purchase a parcel of property located on Route 202. The Almeida's are proposing to build a cafÃ©. As reported last week on Belchertown-News.com, the EDIC held a special meeting to discuss an appraisal and terms and conditions amongst themselves before meeting with the Almeida's.
Joan Almeida advised the EDIC that their attorney advised them that they should secure a 90 day option while they get their ducks in row for the purchase of the parcel. â€œSince we are doing the surveys and the engineeringâ€¦to make sure it's a go before we sign anything,â€ said Almeida.
EDIC members expressed a consensus that this was acceptable. â€œIt's the same approach that we have to start off somewhereâ€¦we are amenable to receiving a different approach,â€ said EDIC Chairman Bill Terry. It is anticipated that the Almeida's attorney will draft the Agreement for the EDIC's review.
Terry also advised the Almeida's that he has been contacted by reporters from the The Republican and the Daily Hampshire Gazette regarding the pending transaction. â€œI was hoping to give you their namesâ€¦maybe you could squeeze a call off to these gentlemen and use it as a marketing possibility,â€ said Terry adding that Belchertown-News.com is â€œall over of this.â€
Almeida also requested clarification as to the acreage to be conveyed. Tony Almeida inquired if they would be purchasing 5.5 acres and what the EDIC plans to do with the remaining portions of the parcel. â€œWe did not designate a specific piece of that total 5 and a half acres,â€ said EDIC Director Jonathan Spiegel. He explained that what they agreed to sell was 1.5 acres beginning at the boundary near the police station. Spiegel added that this assumption was based on the Almeida's original letter. â€œIf you need more than an acre and a half, we would be very willing to talk to you about that,â€ he said. Because of the parcel's proximity to Lake Wallace, there are likely portions of that which are not buildable, requiring additional land for a 1.5 acre building envelope.
â€œI just want to make sure that we are on the same page,â€ said Joan Almeida. Terry assured the Almeida's that a closing will not happen unless all the Almeida's contingencies have been met.
â€œIt's not in anyone's best interest to put somebody in that type of position,â€ said Terry.
Following their meeting with the Almeida's, Spiegel updated his fellow board members regarding the recent letter sent to MassDevelopment on January 27. As previously reported on Belchertown-News.com, the letter requested a version of a Memorandum of Agreement and a list of services. The EDIC are pursuing a formal. relationship with MassDevelopment so they can assist the EDIC with fundraising to get the State School Site cleaned up. â€œAs of today we have not as yet had a responseâ€¦we still hope to have a response soon,â€ said Spiegel. He also said that he spoke to Mary Jane Bacon of State Senator Stanley Rosenberg's office. â€œI came away from the conversation with an understanding that it is really importantâ€¦that we have MassDevelopment involved with us—from the legislator's perspective, from the Administration's perspective,â€ said Spiegel. He also explained that he was advised that Rosenberg's office will help move the relationship along if it doesn't happen in the near future.
Terry added that the assisted living developer has agreed to submit a letter of interest. â€œSo that will be the last compelling thing that we can deliver to MassDevelopment,â€ said Terry. As this news source previously reported, at their December meeting with officials from MassDevelopment, the EDIC was advised that having a commitment from a developer would be beneficial to securing funds for the clean-up.
Some time was also spent reviewing an outline of an EDIC Handbook that will be put together as part of their action plan that resulted from the critical State Auditor's Report. Also as a result of that report, the EDIC interviewed Attorney Gary Fialky from Bacon & Wilson P.C. Because the report criticized the EDIC of a conflict-of-interest because the Terry's wife works at their current law firm—and despite the fact that Terry received a letter from the State Ethics Commission that their was no conflict—the board is considering hiring new counsel.
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