WEST BRATTLEBORO -- A funny thing happened while interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland was trying to find out if the town could get a lease on the land for the new West Brattleboro fire station.
While digging through old land records Moreland found out that the town already had access to the property.
The Brattleboro Selectboard recently approved a plan to tear down the West Brattleboro Fire Station and build a new one on land alongside the existing building because it would be cheaper than renovating the station.
The Brattleboro School District owns the land on Western Avenue, and so Moreland was rifling through land records in Town Hall in preparation for Wednesday night's School Board meeting where Moreland wanted to request access to the gravel parking lot along the fire station.
And while he was down there he discovered that the town and school district had already signed a lease for the land.
"This news came to us very quickly, this afternoon," Moreland told the board. "At this point what we would like is for this body to consider writing a letter. Our assumption, looking at what we are proposing, is that it would fit into this footprint. If you write a letter we could be done with this."
Moreland told the School Board members Wednesday that the two sides inked the 99-year deal back in 1980.
"There are almost 70 years left to go on it," Moreland said.
According to the lease the School Board can allow parking at the lot, or "some other public purpose approved in writing by the lessor."
Moreland wants the board to allow the new station to be built on the gravel lot, but during talks Wednesday the town may even get ownership of the parcel.
Some School Board members seemed willing to give the town the land, or maybe make a trade.
"The board seems to have a history of owning land we don't use," said School Board member Peter Yost. "We get caught spending a whole bunch of time on the ownership of that land and it constantly pulls us back to things that are not related to School Board business."
Moreland was hoping for some kind of answer from the board Wednesday.
The town is moving ahead with the design of all West Brattleboro station, along with the Elliot Street fire station and the police station in the municipal building.
Moreland and the School Board members realize that once attorneys get involved with any kind of land swap the whole deal will slow down.
The board agreed to put together a letter to allow the town to move ahead with designing a new station for the Western Avenue lot.
Once the building is up the School Board seemed willing to give the land to the town, though there might be some kind of swap involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.