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Peabody council seeks more information on purchase plan

PEABODY — Details on the mayor’s request to buy a building near City Hall will be discussed at a City Council meeting Thursday.

But one councilor questioned the plan to purchase 10 Lowell St. Councilor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin said she prefers to see an engineering plan or other details on the proposal before being asked to transfer money from Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to pay for the sale.

CPA, which is paid for by a fee on real estate taxes, is a growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing and outdoor recreational facilities.

“It’s strange to me that there is no other information other than a request to transfer money,” said Manning-Martin.

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt is asking the council to approve the $425,000 purchase from Northfield Properties. After demolishing the building, the mayor plans to use the land for open space, flood mitigation, and as a possible site for a statue of philanthropist George Peabody.

Councilor-at-Large David Gravel said there was nothing unusual about the process for the land purchase. He said CPA fund requests are typically referred to the council’s finance committee where details are discussed.

“When it is an agenda item as it is listed in (the council) packet, there’s typically a cover letter,” he said. “We can agree to disagree, but I don’t think it is a process any different than we have done in the past.”

Thursday night’s agenda item was only to approve discussion, not to transfer money.

“That’s a good point, but I think that moving forward, there should be information included with the requests for money,” said Manning-Martin. “We shouldn’t be doing it this way.”

The mayor said details on the purchase will be available before the Dec. 14 finance committee meeting.

The two restaurants in the building, Brodie’s Pub and NexMex Thing, are moving to Main Street.

The 10 Lowell Street LLC, an entity owned by Northfield Properties, bought the 8,677-square-foot building in 2015 for $400,000, according to county records. It is assessed by the city at $340,200.

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