April 24th Milton Warrant Committee focuses on sale of Kidder Library to Discovery Schoolhouse
The April 24th Milton Warrant Committee meeting was held to discuss the authorization of the Select Board to sell the former Kidder Branch Library. The property was transferred to the town in 1928, and if the building was no longer being used for library purposes, it was advised by the Town Council that it should be used for library purposes, purchased, or sold. The Select Board released a request for a proposal that received two proposals, one from Discovery Schoolhouse for $500,000 to continue programming, and one from Westfield LLC for $400,000 to build four two-bedroom rental units, which would not have been compliant with zoning. The Select Board voted to rank Discovery Schoolhouse’s proposal as the most advantageous and approved a purchase and sale agreement. The agreement includes a right of first refusal for Discovery Schoolhouse if they choose to sell the property.
After a motion to reconsider the article carries, the committee opens the floor for discussion on the proposed sale. A member suggests that selling the land may not be the best decision and recommends the town evaluate the land’s potential use, such as turning it into a grammar school or administrator’s space. Another member points out that the town has been primarily focused on schools and suggests exploring other areas of interest. They also express their concern about the intent of the trust and suggest respecting it.
Understanding the Condition of Discovery Schoolhouse
Discovery Schoolhouse is a private, non-profit school that serves preschool children. The building that houses the school needs several repairs and updates to make it more accessible and up to code. The building is not wheelchair accessible, and the downstairs level is not accessible at all. Discovery Schoolhouse is not owned by the town, so it does not have the same requirements as town-owned buildings. While this means the school doesn’t need to meet the same standards as a public building, it also means that certain renovations or repairs may not be required.
The school has done several repairs and updates to the building, including painting, carpentry, and repairs to the water heater. However, there is always something to do in an old building, and repairs are ongoing. The town also does repairs, but the school takes care of the more routine ones.
The Discovery Schoolhouse building is not ADA compliant, which is not an issue as it is a private enterprise. However, if the town were to buy the building, it would have to render the building ADA compliant. When renovating a building, a percentage of the square footage or buildable area triggers the need to bring the entire structure into compliance. Educational facilities require a higher level of standards than other uses, and public schools must meet those standards.
The basement is not currently in use as it is not accessible. However, in the past, parents and caretakers carried children aged 15 months and up to the lower level, where their needs are different from adults. While the lower level is not accessible, the school still found ways to make use of the space. Overall, Discovery Schoolhouse needs several repairs and updates to make it more accessible and up to code. While the school has done repairs, ongoing maintenance is still necessary. The building is not ADA compliant, but this is not an issue as it is a private enterprise. If the town were to buy the building, it would have to bring it up to compliance.
The meeting concluded with a suggestion that the town buys the Kidder and Library for half a million and donates it to the local historical society to ensure its preservation. The town officials also discuss the possibility of seeking grants to fund the purchase and restoration of the building. They agree to further discuss and explore the options at the next town council meeting. Overall, the meeting highlighted the community’s desire to preserve the historical building and the challenges and potential solutions involved in doing so.