River Garden Repayment Repealed (Annotated)

 After sending out the Brattleboro Reformer article appearing below, I received several emails questioning the sentence reading

the original language of the bill said that “Building a Better Brattleboro, Inc., its successors and assigns, shall not convey this property to a for-profit entity, unless it shall reimburse the town of Brattleboro the sum of $150,000, without interest, at the time of said conveyance, if it ever were to occur.”

And folks are rightly confused!  This language is not in the original bill. That bill, Act 29 (1999)  contained the following wording:

the Town of Brattleboro shall repay the sum appropriated to the state if the town sells to any other entity the land used to develop the project, or if the town leases such land to such an entity by use of a renewable or a nonrenewable lease which provides for a lease term of a total of ten or more years; for which purpose the town shall issue the department of buildings and general services a mortgage in such amount, payable if this condition is met;

And it is that language which is repealed by H. 533, passed by the House and Senate on 5/8/2013:

1999 Acts and Resolves No. 29, Sec. 19(b)(1)(C)(i) (repayment of appropriation for Robert Gibson Park) is repealed.

The language cited in the news article is actually from a different document, a Mortgage Deed between Building a Better Brattleboro and the Town of Brattleboro, dated August 5, 1999, which can be found at the Town Clerk’s Office [Volume 275, Page 811]:

This pledge of collateral  shall be null and void and of no force and effect, unless the mortgagor [Building a Better Brattleboro]  herein,  or its successors  or assigns,  shall  convey  the property to a for profit entity of any kind, The purpose of this pledge  is lo confirm  that Building A Belter Brattleboro,  Inc., its successors  and assigns, shall not convey  this properly to a for profit entity, unless  it shall reimburse  the Town  of Brattleboro  the sum of $150,000.00,  without interest, at the time of said  conveyance,  if ever it were  to occur.  

And this language still stands; it has not been repealed by state legislative action. 

What does this all mean?  A couple of points can be made:

• The Town of Brattleboro could take action to forgive the Mortgage Deed in the event the River Garden were sold to a for profit entity. I leave it to those better versed in local affairs to opine whether the Town could take that action through the Selectboard alone  or must make it through Representative Town Meeting.

• If this matter were to be discussed by the Selectboard, the Conflict of Interest provisions of the Town Charter (Article II, Sec. 9) would seem to apply. In the matter of the disposition of the River Garden, the interests of the Town and the interests of Building a Better Brattleboro may be in conflict.

• If a for profit entity were to be  successful in the BaBB RFP process, that entity could simply reimburse the Town. This would occur irrespective of the prior State requirement  for the Town to reimburse it.

• The Town’s refusal to forgive the Deed could be based on the action taken at the 3/23/2013 Representative Town Meeting which approved a resolution

to conserve [the Robert H. Gibson River Garden]  as a public trust and an aspect of our community’s commons, and . . .  to see to it to the extent possible, that this facility’s essential functioning in service to our extended community be preserved.

“River Garden repayment repealed
Brattleboro Reformer (VT) – Monday, May 20, 2013

Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO – Who ever is chosen to take over the Robert H. Gibson River Garden next month will not have to repay the state the $150,000 in public money that was used to purchase the property in 1999….”

read the rest at Reformer.com

Comments | 1

Leave a Reply