SOUTHBOROUGH – A proposal that would see Fayville Village Hall become a museum for the Southborough Historical Society has hit a snag as the Select Board and the private historical group disagree over whether future conditions should be placed on the property.
The building is currently owned by local resident Jon Delli Priscoli and his company, First Colony Development of Marlborough. Priscoli announced on August 19 that he intended to sell the building to the Historical Society for $100.
The Historical Society is planning a $1.2 million renovation project that will restore the building’s original exterior, convert the basement to a catering kitchen and manufacturing space, and make the first and second floors a museum, an exhibition area and an archive center for the company.
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The current Southborough Historical Museum is located in a much smaller location at the former Flagg School on Common Street.
The Fayville Village Hall building at 40-42 Central St. was built in 1914. It was used as Southborough Post 44 of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic), a temporary clinic, a center for the elderly and d other versatile civic uses. .
In 2017 Southborough voted at Town Meeting to sell it to a third party due to lack of use and high maintenance costs.
“The building was in poor condition at the time of the sale, and the city did not want to spend the significant amount of money it would take to properly refurbish it,” board chair Kathryn Cook said. , at a board meeting on August 28. 26.
City sells property for $21,000
After initially receiving little serious interest, in 2019 the city received an offer of $21,000 from Priscoli’s company. As part of the deal, Southborough was also granted the right of first refusal for the property. Therefore, in order for the Historical Society to acquire the property, the city would have to waive this right of first refusal.
At the August 26 select committee meeting, some members said they were concerned about immediately waiving the right of first refusal. Member Lisa Braccio said she wanted to make sure the city retains the right of first refusal in the event the property comes up for sale again.
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“I would like to see us do our due diligence,” she said. “I would like a retention restriction to be a condition, a right of first refusal to be a condition. It’s a valuable property, take out the historic piece, and it was sold for $21,000. The city is invested in ensuring that it will continue to be preserved and will continue to be a great asset to all residents of the city.
The Historical Society refuses the request for conditions
Company chairman Michael Weishan said his group had refused the board’s request for new terms on the property and hopes to begin construction this fall.
“We formally denied elected officials’ request for a new preservation restriction and a new ROFR (right of first refusal), and urged them to act diligently in releasing the current ROFR so that we can begin construction this fall,” Weishan said. “When completed, we should have an incredible new, entirely privately funded arts, culture and history facility that will provide classes, workshops and event space for residents of Southborough and surrounding towns.”
On August 26, the Select Board declined to bring a motion to waive its right of first refusal. Members will return to the subject at their next meeting on Wednesday after they have had more time to discuss the best way forward.
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Board member Sam Stivers said the acquisition is a good investment for the city and the community, and shows two different groups working together to make something better in the city.
“I think it’s an interesting example of public-private partnership,” he said. “We use external funding that can be used to do something for the city that we couldn’t otherwise afford.”
Wednesday’s board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.