SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council voted in favor of spending $2.9 million to buy the John Weichsel Municipal Center, a decision that must be approved by voters at a referendum in November.
The Monday night vote anticipates the end of a lease for the building owned by Borghesi Building and Engineering.
Borghesi bought the building from the town nearly a decade ago for $1 and renovated it to the town’s specifications.
Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri, a Democrat, said the town’s reserves are healthy enough to absorb the purchase.
Dawn Miceli, council vice chairwoman and a Democrat, said the original plan anticipated that the town would buy the building at the first available opportunity.
Town leaders urged a “yes” vote on the referendum, saying buying the building with cash from savings would save $400,000 annually over the next ten years by avoiding another lease.
Before the vote, three residents spoke during a public hearing on the issue. The council chambers are located in the municipal center.
Jim Michlewski pointed out that before the deal with Borghesi to renovate the building voters had twice rejected a new town hall at referendum.
He was also upset at the town’s decision to sell the building to Borghesi for $1.
“I think it’s the responsibility of the Town Council to safeguard the property of this town, not give it away for a dollar and certainly not to thumb their noses at the electorate who said ‘no’ twice,” Michlewski said.
Michael Riccio, a council Republican, said the savings involved made the purchase of the municipal center “just simple common sense.”
Resident Pamela Depaolo said the building had turned out well, with plentiful space and parking. She supported its purchase.
“I think this has proved to be a great space,” she said. “It should go forward.”
The town’s Board of Finance also approved buying the building.
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