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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vote OKs Legion sale to Gouveia

As published in the Record Journal Wednesday November 14, 2012

By Laurie Rich Salerno
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2235

WALLINGFORD - The fourth time’s the charm for Joe Gouveia.

The Town Council voted 5-4 Tuesday night to sell the town-owned American Legion building to the local winery owner for $75,000.

“I think it’s great, it’s great they made a decision,” Gouveia said after the meeting. Gouveia was the only bidder for the building when the Town Council invited sale or lease offers this fall.

Gouveia’s three previous offers for the building were unsuccessful. In 2008, he bid $65,000 for the 6,875- square foot structure. In 2011, he submitted two different plans, one for $100,000 and one for $45,000. The council decided in 2011 to accept an offer of $125,000, but the deal fell through. The council chose another offer of $125,000, and that sale also fell through. On Tuesday, Gouveia and local architect Daniel Lyon presented the same plan that Lyon had designed and the council had approved in 2011 for Rick Termini, who decided not to go through with the sale later that year. Gouveia’s plans call for an office on the first floor of the 41 S. Main St. building, one two-bedroom apartment on the second floor, and another apartment on the third floor. The architect said he was not yet certain of the number of bedrooms of the third-floor apartment.

Plans also call for a six-foot porch to be built on the front of the structure, which would encroach 4 feet into the town’s parade ground, as Termini’s plan did.

The plans also call for a back portion added in the 1950s to be taken down. That section appeared to be in great disrepair during a tour of the property in the fall, with pieces of the ceiling having fallen to the floor. Four parking spaces will be created in the space. Gouveia will have to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission to seek approval for another four spaces. Some councilors initially wanted to delay the vote to confirm that Gouveia could remove the addition, in light of a court ruling that disallowed destruction of the building. But Gouveia said he would change the plans if need be.

“The plan has been approved already for someone else. It’s not like we’re looking at this all over again,” said Councilor John LeTourneau, urging councilors to vote on the plan. LeTourneau, a Republican, was part of the initial fight for the building to be saved from demolition.

As for the council’s choosing a bid that was $50,000 less than a 2011 proposal, Gouveia said he offered what the market would bear. He talked in a previous interview about the amount of damage major storms had done to the building in the year since the previous bids were taken.

“It’s a little bit less than they had hoped to get, the problem is it’s only worth what people are willing to pay,” Gouveia said, noting that there was no one else who bid to purchase or lease the building in this recent round of bidding.

The building has been vacant since the town purchased it in 1994 at a foreclosure auction. Gouveia said he wants to start construction, replacing the roof, before winter weather sets in.

“It’s only going to get worse, not better,” Gouveia said.

The council vote allowed the town’s law department to draw up a contract for sale. The councilors will still have to vote on the final contract after a public hearing. Town Attorney Gerry Farrell said he was not sure when the contract would be complete.

Democrats Nick Economopoulos, Jason Zandri, and John Sullivan voted to approve the sale, along with Republicans Tom Laffin and John LeTourneau. Republicans Bob Parisi, Craig Fishbein, Rosemary Rascati and Vincent Cervoni voted not to sell, with Rascati and Cervoni saying they opposed selling town land next to Town Hall.

As per new bidding requirements approved by the councilors, for the first time the approved bidder, Gouveia, will have to submit a 10 percent deposit of the purchase price, or $7,500. (203) 317-2235

Twitter: @LaurieSalernoRJ

File photo courtesy of the Record-Journal

The former American Legion building at 41 S. Main St., Wallingford.