The Gray Town Council is seeking expert opinion on the value of municipal properties as the town moves toward a decision on the future of the Pennell Institute.

Councilors are asking for proposals from commercial real estate agents that include an opinion of value and marketing plan for five town owned properties: Pennell Institute and Science Building, the former Post Office, the Town Hall, Stimson Hall, and the Dry Mills Fire Station.

The proposals are meant to give councilors an idea of the potential uses and worth of each site, said Town Manager Deborah Cabana. Gray has outgrown its current municipal building, and a report detailing the costs of establishing a town hall at different sites, including Pennell, will be before the Town Council next month.

The information gleaned from that report and from the real estate agent’s proposals will help councilors and residents decide in which direction Gray should go, she said.

“The town is being openminded to get all the facts to the townspeople,” Cabana said.

The question of whether to renovate Pennell Institute will likely be on the Nov. 2 ballot. If residents decide to move forward with the renovation in order to place the municipal offices at Pennell, the town would be prepared through the proposals to sell some or all of the other properties, said Peter Gellerson, chairman of the Gray Town Council.

“We would have some idea what the value would be if we are going to put it out to bid,” said Gellerson. If residents were supportive of moving the town’s operations to Pennell, or using it for some other municipal purpose, Gellerson said he would like to see the money raised from the sale of the other properties help pay for the renovations of Pennell.

If voters decide that the renovation of Pennell Institute is too costly, the town would likely want to divulge itself of that property as well, said Gellerson.

“We probably would pursue other avenues to get it prepared and back on the tax rolls,” he said, adding that the end goal should be to get some of the municipal properties back in private hands and pulling in tax revenue.

“We are certainly going to make an attempt to sell some of the town properties because we have too many,” Gellerson said.


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