Town of Union explains June 14 ballot to determine future of Thompson Community Center

UNION – The future of the Thompson Community Center will be decided on June 14, 2022, between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm, in the William L. Pullen Municipal Building’s meeting room, at the Union Town Office.

All citizens are invited to vote for one of five options to determine the building’s future. Voting can occur in person on June 14 or through absentee ballot. The result of the vote will be determined if the building will be retained by the town, sold or leased to allow for the creation of a senior housing establishment, sold to a rehabilitation specialist, sold on the open market via a real estate broker, or torn down.

To prepare for this meeting, the Town appointed community members to the Committee for the Future of the TCC in order to compile information about the five potential options for the building’s future. All of the information gathered can be found on the town of Union’s website, including reports conducted by outside parties that outline the current condition of the building.

A public hearing will be held on Monday, May 23, 2022, at 6:30 pm, in the William L. Pullen Municipal Building’s meeting room to allow voters the opportunity to hear a summary of the information gathered by the committee, as well as ask questions of the committee, the Select Board, and the town manager.

The five potential options that will be voted on are:

Option 1: To see if the Town will retain ownership of the Thompson Community Center and accept all responsibility for renovations and repairs, operations, and operating expenses. Under this option, the Town will retain official ownership of the building and lease space to generate ongoing income. This option could include substantial rehabilitation of the building. The management of the building, under this option, could be run by the Town with Town employees or contracted with a third party of some combination thereof, at the discretion of the Select Board.

The estimated initial cost for this option ranges from between $ 285,500 to $ 465,000. This figure reflects repairs and renovations that would need to occur immediately to allow spaces to continue to be rented and for the community to safely access the building by fire code recommendations and insurance requirements. The amounts listed under this option were gathered from the research of the committee, consultation with local resources and reports that are available on the Town’s website.

The estimated income that could be generated, based on a lease rate per square foot commensurate with the condition of the building, would be between $ 100,000 and $ 165,000 annually. The maximum estimated amount that full renovation and improvements to the building would cost, over time, is $ 3,000,000. These future needs would not be appropriated under this article. Funding sources to facilitate this option’s success would include the Town borrowing money, with an estimated cost to taxpayers of $ 20 annually per $ 100,000 of their home’s estimated value. Additional sources could be explored, including numerous grant opportunities for which the project meets criteria.

Option 2: To see if the Town will sell or lease the building to a third party for senior housing with retained community center.

This option would require that the town negotiate a lease or sale with / to an organization that will renovate the building and utilize the space for senior housing (with a minimum age of 55 to 62). This would most likely be an organization that offers living spaces for seniors, and occupants will not necessarily be limited to current citizens of the town of Union.

The estimated cost to taxpayers under this option is $ 0 to $ 10,000. A portion of space will be retained for community use (a requirement of this article) and the Town would remain responsible, annually, for expenses incurred to ensure that maintenance for community use is provided (such as snow and ice removal).

Option 3: To see if the Town will sell the property to a rehab specialist / renovation group to create community and mixed-use space. This would involve the sale of the buildings to a developer with covenants to retain historical aspects and restrictions. The Town would relinquish control over the use of the building following the sale although The Town could request conditions of the sale such as maintained use of the gym and thrift store spaces.

The cost to the Town under this option is estimated to be between $ 0- $ 10,000.

The one-time estimated revenue generated by the building’s sale would likely be between $ 150,000 and $ 695,000. These estimates are based on quotes from local real estate professionals, based on current property values ​​in consideration of the building’s condition and are not reflective of the assessed value of the property. Details would need to be worked out between the Town and the building’s purchaser to determine the use of shared parking, and the use of the abutting tennis courts would be retained for town use.

Option 4: To see if the Town will demolish the building and remove all debris. This option is informed by research into various demolition options, including a subsequent return to green space. The town would then retain the land on which the building once stood. The estimated cost to the Town associated with this option is between $ 201,040 to $ 498,000. This option would be funded by taxpayers. The basketball and tennis courts would remain available for public use.

Option 5: To see if the Town will list the property with a real estate agent and sell to the highest qualified bidder with the right to reject any and all bids. While the potential revenue generated from this option could be estimated to mirror the figure referenced in Option 3, it could be higher due to fewer restrictions on the building’s subsequent use making it a more desirable investment, with broader appeal. The Town would not retain influence in the building’s future use under this option.

As with Option 3, details would need to be worked out between the town and the building’s purchaser to determine the use of shared parking, and the use of abutting tennis courts would be retained for town use. Citizens of the Town of Union are encouraged to review the materials available on the Town of Union’s website (www.union.maine.gov) to prepare to make this important decision, and attend the Town Meeting on May 23 to ask questions and gather additional information.

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