On Town Meeting Day, voters will decide if the Milton Town School District should move forward with a $135,000 real estate purchase.
The property at 12 Bradley St., adjacent to Milton Elementary and Middle School, is up for sale. Milton schools have a history of space issues, so officials say the opportunity is too good to pass up.
“This is a once in a lifetime deal,” school trustee Cathy Vadnais said. “If we don’t buy it, someone else will.”
The proposed purchase is a new life for the home, whose owner died last August after a fight against cancer. Roberta Davis, 67, owned the property since 1993.
Vadnais knew Davis as a trusted 10-year client to her and her husband’s accounting business. The situation is tragic, Vadnais said, noting the board wants to be respectful of Davis’ family.
The finite use of the facility is unclear, but superintendent Ann Bradshaw says it could be transformed into district offices or a parking lot. Decisions won’t be made until voters approve the ballot item, Vadnais added.
A parking lot could provide more space for community members to attend school events and allow parents to park their cars and walk their kids into school each morning, Bradshaw said.
Parking is sparse at school functions, where residents can be seen circling the school’s lot for extended amounts of time, often making makeshift spots in non-parking areas.
If used for district offices, Vadnais said the two offices at the Herrick Ave. school could move into the Bradley St. space. This likely means the district would reconstruct the current house, Vadnais said, adding facilities director Bruce Cheeseman would have more expert information.
The Milton School Board called on Cheeseman to inspect the house and assess its value for school purposes. Cheeseman said the property was a good purchase, primarily because of its close proximity to the district’s current land.
Cheeseman said he was barred from answering further questions, per Bradshaw’s request and directed further questioning to the superintendent’s office.
Vadnais first toyed with the idea of buying the property last summer. Davis told Vadnais she was thinking of selling her home and needed the appropriate paperwork.
After mentioning it to fellow trustees soon after, Vadnais said the idea sat on the backburner as negotiations and other school issues took a front seat. But then Vadnais received a tax-related call from Davis’ son, who informed her of Davis’ death.
He hoped the district would be interested in buying his mother’s home, Vadnais said.
“He said this would be something his mother would have really liked,” Vadnais recalled. “She would have been pleased the school bought that property.”
The Independent called Davis’ son, but he could not be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.
According to Vadnais, the board’s goal is to purchase the house with one-time money, possibly by cashing out some stocks, as per the district auditor’s recommendation. Trading assets for assets would be a lateral move that doesn’t cost taxpayers, Vadnais said.
Plus, finding a property for just $135,000 isn’t common in today’s market, she added.
“If we had to, at some point, decide to build the district offices over there, it would cost less than building more classrooms, because the specs are different,” Vadnais said.
The move would keep administrators in close proximity to the school, she added, maintaining Bradshaw’s concern that the district needs “all hands on deck” with elementary and middle school students.
Still, Bradshaw and Vadnais reiterated no decisions would be made until after Town Meeting Day.
“To me, it’s a win-win for everyone,” Vadnais said. “And we’ll see if people in the town agree.”