On Friday, July 15, the town of Bedford formally acquired the building and grounds at 139 The Great Road as the site for a fire station.
The real-estate closing with previous owner Utah State University was uneventful, in contrast to a tumultuous period in June.
Next on the agenda is the selection of an owner’s project manager for the design, bidding, and construction. Proposals for that opportunity were due by July 5. Upcoming are hiring an architect and establishing a building committee, as defined in an annual town meeting vote.
Town Meeting approved purchase of the property on March 29, following weeks of negotiations that resulted in an agreed price of $1.,55 million. Final approval was contingent on a vote by the Utah Board of Higher Education.
The closing was originally scheduled for June 9, but was delayed when the Utah Board modified the terms after receiving a higher bid for the property from abutters Carol Amick and William Moonan.
According to the minutes of that meeting, “Utah State University requested the board’s approval to sell a Bedford, Massachusetts property for a negotiated price of $1.55 million during the May 2022 Board meeting. The appraisal commissioned by the buyer showed a value of $1.23 million while the appraisal commissioned by USU showed a value of $1.65 million.”
“Just prior to the Board meeting, a new offer of $1.7 million was submitted by another party. The Board postponed approval pending additional information.”
At a June 1 meeting, the Utah Board’s executive committee “passed a motion directing the school to seek an updated agreement with the initial buyer for a $1.7 million price or to move on to the other party’s offer. After the Executive Committee met, the initial buyer agreed to a sales price of $1.7 million.”
Town officials channeled the additional $150,000 from funds allocated under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Once the town informed the owner that it would meet the revised price tag, no further discussion was required by the Board, explained Tricia Dugovic, communications director for the Utah System of Higher Education. Indeed, the transaction was part of the “general consent calendar” on the board’s July 14 agenda and was approved without comment.
Since town meeting approval, the site selection has also withstood litigation alleging that the town did not comply with state procurement law. That suit was withdrawn in June.
There’s another regulatory hurdle, still several months away. The location is within the Bedford Center Historic District, and fulfillment of the project will require certification by the Historic District Commission.
State law requires that the commission defer a decision on demolition of the existing structure until it can simultaneously consider the replacement. Town officials have said they look forward to “working with the Historic District Commission, neighbors, and other stakeholders.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763