Casual observers and those from not around these parts can’t be blamed if they make what might seem an obvious assumption: The John Weichsel Municipal Center is owned by the Town of Southington, right? The center is named for Southington’s longtime town manager, a legend for longevity, and it makes sense that a municipal building would be municipally owned.
But that is not the situation. The Weichsel center, the one-time North Center School which now houses municipal and Board of Education offices, is owned by Southington Center School LLC. The Borghesi family, of Borghesi Building and Engineering of Torrington, leases the building to the town and has done so for the past eight years.
Now the town has the opportunity next year to buy the municipal center, at 200 N. Main St., and town leaders are behind the idea. The financial factors seem to support the plan to purchase. The town could continue to lease the building at $3.6 million over the next decade, or buy it outright for $2.9 million. It’s a little more expensive, at an additional $200,000, if the sum is borrowed.
Either way it looks like a good deal. Town Manager Mark Sciota recommends it as the “perfect opportunity” to avoid financing costs and use the town’s undesignated funds.
“It’s really a great benefit to our residents,” said Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri.
At the moment, it looks as though the council can be expected to move forward and vote to send the question to a referendum this fall. That means it will be up to the town’s voters to decide. There’s a good enough argument to make that an easy decision. Town leaders will have the chance to make their case at a public hearing on the potential purchase set for June 24.
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