By Ian Nadeau
Atlantic News, Thursday, March 21, 2002
HAMPTON — The Hampton board of selectmen voted 4-1 on Monday night to accept the lease agreement which transfers ownership of the Hampton Beach Village District Precinct over to the town of Hampton.
The town will now be responsible for fire protection services at Hampton Beach effective April 1. The transfer of obligation was approved by village district voters at last year's town meeting.
In addition to the exchange of the Ashworth Avenue property, the town will assume ownership of Fire Engine #4 and all fire-related apparatus found at the station. The town will also be the recipient of all furniture located at the precinct; with the exception of those found in the meeting room which will continue to be used by Hampton Beach Village District commissioners.
"I think it's great," remarked Selectman Brian Warburton.
Selectman William "Skip" Sullivan — who was sworn in for a new term earlier in the evening — echoed those thoughts. "It's been a long time in coming and I think it's great to have the fire protection services under one entity," he said.
The term of the lease is for three years with an option to renew. During which time, the town must, exercise good faith efforts to plan for the funding and construction of a new station within the beach district.
Presenting the lease agreement to the board were Hampton Beach Village Distraict Commissioiners Mike O'Neil and Skp Windemiller, their attorney Sharon Cuddy Somers, and Town Counsel John MacEachern.
MacEachern said the agreement more or less implements what the board had discussed in previous meetings in regard to the transfer, but added that no side was entirely happy.
"We've gone over it and we're in agreement with the lease and we want to go forward with it," stated 0'Neil.
Selectman Bonnie Searle voted against the measure due to a number of maintenance and liability issues which she pointed out at the meeting.
One such concern was in regards to Article 6.2 of the agreement which calls for the town to repair a number of areas of the precinct including the station's roof. Windemiller noted that the back roof was replaced just this year, while the main (red) roof — which has been in place, for 12 years — was repaired around the same time.
"That's part of the $75,000 that has been invested in that building in the last couple years," said 0' Neil.
Searle suggested that the town take pictures of the premises since they will be responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the facility.
Newly-appointed Chairman Jim Workman wondered if the town would be compensated in any way for the village district's continued use of outside water faucets for landscaping on the adjacent property. Windemiller thought the inclusion of the water usage was a fair exchange, since the district is in essence handing over all of the property and equipment. Somers added that the cost of water would be minimal.
Sullivan brought up an issue related to Article 17.2 which deals with the use of the two parking lanes to the right of the building. Somers — of the firm Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella — clarified the issue by stating that, while the lanes are not part of the leased property, the district will allow the fire department to utilize the space. The lease agreement further states that in no event, shall the town use that space for additional parking.
"Well, it is obvious that the precinct commissioners have gone over this with their attorneys, and this board obviously hasn't," Searle later stated after raising an issue regarding taxes.
Regardless, the agreement would be passed by the remainder of the board. After the vote, Warburton reiterated his pleasure over the positive relationship the board has maintained with the commissioners. "This is a nice thing —- working together for the benefit of the town," he said.
As a final note, 0' Neil confirmed that the word 'Hampton' had been removed from the out-of-date ladder truck which the commissioners had sold to Ivan Eaton Jr. of Seabrook for $6,500.