Town Must Match Higher Bid to Acquire Fire Station Site

Editor’s note: The original version of this article erroneously reported that the Utah Board of Higher Education voted to sell 139 The Great Road to abutters. The Bedford Citizen regrets its error.

The Executive Board of the Utah System of Higher Education Tuesday voted to sell the property at 139 The Great Road to the town only if it can match an offer that’s $150,000 higher than authorized by Annual Town Meeting in March 2022.

That higher bid was submitted by abutters Carol Amick and William Moonan for $1.7 million in a letter to the University on April 29, 2022.

If the town can’t match that amount by June 9, the action could obliterate the town’s plans to build a fire station on the 1.5-acre site.

At noon on Thursday the Select Board convened virtually, in an emergency meeting; the agenda featured an executive session discussion including “strategy related to acquisition of 139 The Great Road,” followed by open-session “Discussion – Land acquisition of 139 The Great Road.”

After emerging from behind closed doors, Chair Emily Mitchell announced that the board determined there was no need for the open discussion and the meeting was adjourned. There were no opportunities for public comment or questions.

Less than an hour later, the board issued a brief statement: “The Select Board continues to follow the clear guidance of the Town through the 2 to 1 vote of Town Meeting to acquire 139 Great Road for a fire station, and hopes the seller will proceed with our previously agreed-upon terms of sale. If it won’t, the Board will consider the best course of action for the community to meet our obligations to judiciously protect taxpayer resources as we build a critically needed new fire station.”

Annual Town Meeting in late March approved purchasing the property for $1.55 million, per the terms of an agreement town officials had negotiated with the owner, Utah State University. The bonds for the purchase were scheduled to have been sold this week.

Amick and Moonan, who reside contiguous to the south boundary of the site, legally challenged the agreement, contending that the town violated state procurement law in choosing the location.

Amick and Moonan presented their counter offer, separate from the litigation, through their lawyer, J. Raymond Miyares, in a letter dated April 29.

“If Ms. Amick and Mr. Moonan are successful in acquiring 139 The Great Road, it is their intention to take the necessary steps to preserve the house, prevent its demolition, and place a legally binding historic preservation restriction on it,” the letter said.

That wasn’t what convinced the Utah board. It was the sale price differential of $150,000.

“At the end of the day I would rather be dealing with an upset city council in Massachusetts than a bunch of upset taxpayers and voters in Utah,” said board member Harris Simmons during a Zoom meeting on Wednesday morning. “If you want to close by June 9, get your city council together and offer $1.7 million. Otherwise, the state board has directed us to take it to the other party.”

That became the text of a motion, which was approved by all 13 trustees present. Most of the meeting took place in executive session, with open discussion lasting less than five minutes.

After the meeting, Trisha Dugovic, director of communications for the Utah System of Higher Education, explained that the board is “obligated to seek fair-market value and wants to ensure the taxpayers of Utah are getting the best value for the property.”

Utah State University has owned the building, which was used for research, since 1983. Town officials learned of plans to sell this spring and negotiated what appeared to be a final transaction, pending only town meeting approval of the funding. The property never was advertised on the open market.

Some members of the Utah board at Wednesday’s meeting were sympathetic to the town’s situation. “I think if the city would match the final offer we should sell it to the city,” said Wilford Clyde. “I think it’s a worthy cause that they’re trying to buy the property for. It seems like we already made a deal with the city and in the meantime, another offer came in.”

His colleague Dave Cowley added, “The town in general certainly supports this location as a place for that fire station the town really needs. If they were outbid by somebody, that really does put the town without the ability to move forward.”

Simmons replied, “Doesn’t the town have legal right to declare eminent domain? I think they can get a fire station regardless. It’s more complicated obviously but I don’t think we ought to think this is the only way they are going to get a fire station.”

“How about we go back to the city and give them the opportunity to adjust their price?” suggested Arthur Newell. “If they won’t, then we’ll open it up to best and final offer.” Board Chair Lisa Church said, “I think that’s what we’ve already done and they’ve declined to increase it.”

The counter-offer in the April 29 letter included a purchase and sale agreement “which contains substantially identical terms to the contract executed by the town and sets a significantly higher purchase price,” according to Miyares’s letter.

The Utah board was expected to vote on the sale on May 24, but delayed after Miyares petitioned for an injunction asking the court to halt the sale. The injunction was denied, with Judge Cathleen Campbell stating, “I do not find any likelihood for success on the merits.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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Mario Mendes
Mario Mendes
3 months ago

The people involved in this lawsuit do not have the best interest of the town in their minds. Therefore, if any of them are currently employed by, or serve on any town boards or committees, they must resign immediately, as their participation in town business and dealings are in conflict of interest.

Ted T. Martin
Ted T. Martin
3 months ago

I hope A and M are proud of themselves…

Steve yeuh
Steve yeuh
3 months ago

This is a complete travesty and a perfect example of of someone with money trying to circumvent the will of the people. The town voted with a majority to approve the purchase of this property. Amick and Noonan didn’t like that result and as people of means went around the will of the people to purchase this property to get their way. Do many of you not see how incredibly wrong this is? The message this sends that if you have enough money you essentially can do what you want, the will of the people be damned. As a former State Senator and Select Board members these two should be utterly ashamed of themselves for this conduct.

David Aldorisio
David Aldorisio
3 months ago

Good for the abutters I do not believe we should let this idiotic project be stuffed down the taxpayer throats !!!!

Paul J Bradford
Paul J Bradford
3 months ago

The taxpayers voted for the project, it was not stuffed down their throats.

Corgi owner
Corgi owner
3 months ago

These Fire fighter . Deserve this, make it happen Bedford. Taxes will rise one way or another why not for a Fire Dept like the Police station. Which I believe needed a little upgrade.

Last edited 3 months ago by Corgi owner
Mario Mendes
Mario Mendes
3 months ago

So it turns out is a “not in my backyard” thing after all. Especially shameful coming from someone who served for the town.

Anyone else involved in the lawsuit that still a member of any boards or committees should resign immediately.

Matthew Agen
Matthew Agen
3 months ago

Don’t like a democratically made decision? Got money? Buy a different result!

Cutler Street
Cutler Street
3 months ago

So sad that we can not all join hands and support the very ones that saves lives! Such a disappointment

Jimmy Russels
Jimmy Russels
3 months ago

C’mon man

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