Cohasset Asking for RFPs to Lease or Buy Senior Center Space

91 Soheir StreetA lovely and now lonely building with a lien and unexplained legal and other financial problems sits at the edge of the Town Swim Center at 91 Sohier Street.

Although it was built by the Cohasset Social Service League (CSS) for Cohasset Seniors, it appears seniors may not be using the building any time in the near future.

When the project was first contemplated in 2011, the Town was told the CSS would at some point turn the building over to the Town for $1 and a handshake. In recent months CSS told the Town it could no longer “gift” the building to the Town, but said the Town could buy the building. To date the CSS has not presented the Town with any proposal for an outright gift, or any lease or purchase options for less than $35,000.

State procurement laws require that any transaction of more than $35,000 requires the Town to proceed  by statue, with requests for RFPs. The 30B statue would not apply if the amount to lease or purchase were less than $35,000. Example: The town may lease a $1M building for one year lease of $34,000. A two-year lease for $18,000 a year, for a cumulative value of $36,000, requires strict adherence to the rules above.

Were the Town to purchase 91 Sohier Street at some point, Town Counsel stated that “any building acquired as a purchase needed to be completed, without open construction contracts, unfinished work, or outstanding liens, and additionally provide the Town the maximum flexibility to operate whatever programs, services and other municipal operations onsite it deemed necessary and appropriate.”

In a very brief presentation at tonight’s meeting, Town Manager Chris Senior noted that several years ago CSS decided to leave the public/private partnership with the Town and pursue an independently built Senior Center at 91 Sohier Street. And therein all the problems lie.

The November 17,2014 Special Town Meeting allocated funds for a due diligence review of 91 Sohier Street that would analyze the ways and means of the Town acquiring, leasing or occupying the privately-owned building. A physical review of the structure was also analyzed. (This is on the Town website).

Accordingly, Senior said he is putting out two RFPs for a Senior Center. The CSS and others are invited to bid on the RFPs. Should the Town decide to purchase any property for Cohasset seniors, it would need a  large appropriation that would be funded, presumably, by borrowing at a town meeting, and then it would need a debt exclusion Prop 2 1/2 override at the ballot box.

One RFP will ask for bids for the Town to lease a Senior Center space. The second RFP will ask for proposals for the Town to buy a Senior Center. Both RFPs will have language that stipulates the space purchased or leased must be able to be used for other municipal purposes. The building at 91 Sohier Street cannot be used for other than seniors because of the language of the trust fund money that was used to build it. Responses to the RFS are due on or before April 24 with a  review and recommendation to be made as soon thereafter as possible.

Town Meeting will be asked to approve both RFPs in order that the Town can move forward to relocate its seniors. Currently, Cohasset Elder Affairs leases rooms at the Cohasset Community Center on a monthly basis.

There were no persons present from the Cohasset Social Service League. Tana Carlson, vice chairman of Cohasset Elder Affairs, was present. This is not a time of celebration for the Cohasset Social Service League or for the Town of Cohasset.

Good intentions have gone awry.

(Cohasset Senior Center in Limbo

© Copyright 2015 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed