Town Has Offer For Corner Lot; Future Library Plans Involved
An interesting conflict of responsibilities developed last night at a conference between the trustees of the Morrill Memorial Library and the Selectmen. The question at issue was: ‘’Should the Selectmen refuse to sell any of the old Beacon School lot on Beacon and Beech streets until the library trustees decide whether they will need all or a part of it for their future plans.’
The question is not an academic one because Selectman Nelson, chairman protem in the absence of Selectman Butters, said the Board has a live prospective customer for the corner lot of the tract. He is a doctor who plans to build a $10,000 residence and office on that lot if he can get it.
No formal vote was taken after the hearing was closed because it was felt that Chairman Butters, now ill. should be present at such a motion. However, in the discussion which followed the withdrawal of the library Board, it was evident that Selectman Nelson stood firmly with the trustees in their request that they be given the entire tract, while Selectmen Holman, Curren, and Riley were all for selling the doctor his house lot and allowing the Library an 85-foot front on Beacon street and a 150-foot depth, as a western addition to the present library property.
Miss Maude Shattuck, chairman of the trustees of the Library, told the Selectmen that the trustees, as elected officials of the town, had a definite responsibility to the present and future taxpayers. The future of the plant, she pointed out. is in the trustees* hands and a majority of them feel that future needs require the possible use of the entire Beacon school lot as it now stands. She also pointed out the many public buildings in Norwood have been erected without sufficient foresight on a pinch-penny basis and on a lot far too small for future additions as the town grows. She quoted the Municipal Building as an example. The trustees, she said, are trying to be farsighted in the library’s plans, which now include an elaborate enlargement of the building as a post-war project. This may take the form of a wing on the west side, or perhaps a separate building set back of the present library on the Beacon lot. The architect’s plan of such a wing have already been presented to the Selectmen. But since any building plans, explained the Chairman, can only be rather vague at present since they must be post-war. she begged the Selectmen to also show some vision and go along with the trustees for a few years and see how the matter shaped up. If the added land was not needed, the school lot could always be sold. Selectman Nelson admitted at this point that the Board did not need to sell at this time—except that a customer was a customer.
Trustee William Hyland took the position that while his Board did not have any definite plans and he could understand why the Selectmen wanted to sell now. he felt that if they did turn down the sale of the land, the customer could go to some real estate development like Westover and buy. perhaps, a half acre. Immediately the valuation of the land would jump about 10 cents per foot of which town would get a tax benefit which would equalize the loss of a sale now.
The Selectmen’s attitude of their responsibility was brought out as follows: There are 25,000 feet in the entire school tract. In 1941 a special committee was appointed by the town to survey the land held by the town and to recommend which property be sold and which held. This committee appraised the Beacon lot and the old school house at $41.000. And they advised that it be sold. Since the prospective customer would pay about S4.000 for the lot he wants (although no exact price has been set) the Selectmen feel their responsibility to the tax-payers demands that the Committee’s advice be headed now: especially since they feel the doctor will erect a house which will detract in no way from the realty of that neighborhood. Selectmen Holman. Curren and Riley all say the library trustees have never brought in any concrete plans for the developing the library nor did they present anything new last night. They do admit that the town is going to grow and that the night. They, do admit that the town is going to grow and that the New England Tel. & Tel. Co. have made a private survey which indicates that Norwood will have 23,000 population in 1960. But they still insist the library building does not need the entire Beacon lot even for this number of citizens. Mr. Nelson does, not concur in this and thinks it might and that the trustees are showing a praiseworthy vision and foresight which other builders hereabout might imitate: and that the Selectmen better go slow in any vote at this time which they or future Boards might regret later.
TWO NOT IN FAVOR
It was brought out at the hearing that two of the trustees are not in favor of asking for the entire property. Miss Frances. L. Blanchot said that the school population of 1944 shows a definite decrease, with other schools all over the nation. This, to her mind does not show à need for a greater library in the future and that an additional $4.000 would be welcome in the town treasury. Also, that the plans of the trustees are too sketchy to warrant-the use of the entire school property. Trustee Francis Dolan also echoed Miss Blanchot’s assertion and said he has never been wholeheartedly in favor of demanding the extra land because he felt the entire question was too much up in the air at present.
Since the prospective buyer has asked the Board to vote a special article in the next town meeting warrant, if the sale was voted. Selectman Nelson said he thought the full board should be present at such a vote and it should not act too nastily. So Selectman Holman motioned that the matter be laid on the table until next week, when it is hoped Chairman Butters can be present.