Councilor Matt Kelly add his comment just as the discussion was getting underway on Wednesday evening.
"This is just a discussion, just so everyone understands that. It is not on our agenda to be voted on."An hour later, after more than a dozen speakers raised points primarily to slow down and take some time to discuss the project pros and cons for what to do with 150 Emmons St, Councilor Kelly did make a motion to add a resolution to the next Town Council meeting agenda. The resolution was voted on and passed unanimously (via roll call as Councilor Mercer was participating remotely).
The resolution would be authorize the administration to issue an "Expression of Interest" where for 90 days it would be open to received proposals. At the end of the 90 day period, the Economic Development Committee would review the proposals and make a final report to the Town Council scheduled for the first meeting in Sep 2014.
The intent of this request for proposals is to gather interest and ideas in order to better focus and craft the proposal to sell the building (more likely). How it would be used remains open at this time. The consensus of the Council seems to be revenue generation (which Franklin needs), something to recognize Horace Mann, and some portion of the lot for 'greenspace'.
All those looking to do something special whether for non-profits or cultural purposes will have 90 days to put the proposal together and submit it.
Some of the folks walking away from the meeting last night would be upset that after being heard, the Council went ahead and did what they apparently had planned to do. The vote on this by the way was unanimous, 9-0 via roll call.
There is time to further the discussion, combine or re-do ideas, make the ideas more real than a few words. It will also take time for the next steps to happen. In Sep, the Council (and all of Franklin) will find out what the Economic Development Committee recommendation will be. The RFP would still require another Council vote. Once that is decided, the bid process would result in a decision to be made by the Council.
The bid winner then would work through the normal planning process with hearings before the Planning Board and other bodies as needed. Whatever happens will certainly not happen overnight.
What should happen as this goes forward is for the Town Council to be transparent in their words and deeds. They have been less than transparent thus far, hence the concern on the citizens part is justly placed.
|150 Emmons St - the building under discussion|
The full set of notes reported live during the meeting Wednesday evening can be found here