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February 1, 2013

Salem voters to consider selling former school

Former Foss School, much more on tap at tomorrow's deliberative session

SALEM — Outside, the paint is peeling and the building looks dilapidated. Inside, most of the rooms are empty.

Yesterday, the town Human Services Department moved out of the former Mary Foss School — home to several social service agencies for many years.

Tomorrow, voters will debate whether to sell the 88-year-old building.

The proposed sale is just one of 22 warrant articles residents will consider at the town deliberative session. They can debate and amend the articles before voting on them March 12. The deliberative session begins at 9 a.m. at Salem High School.

Voters will review proposals that include spending $1.1 million to repair two deteriorating bridges on Bluff Street and Providence Hill Road, and $250,000 for a new ambulance. The 22 articles total $46 million, including a $37.5 million operating budget.

A proposal to spend $5.6 million to improve several roads is also on the warrant. The roads include Pond Street, Sand Hill Road and Stiles Road.

Town Manager Keith Hickey and selectmen have urged voters to approve the $37.5 million budget instead of the $36.9 million default budget.

The default budget would mean a $700,000 cut in town employees and services, leading to a severe impact on the town, Hickey told senior citizens last week.

But yesterday, the town’s focus was on vacating the 7,479-square-foot former school and relocating the Human Services Department to Town Hall.

The former school building will be empty and shuttered after the Greater Salem Caregivers moves out Tuesday, Hickey said.

Two other agencies, ServiceLink and the Rockingham Community Action Program, left in December as preparations were made to possibly sell the property, he said.

Six truckloads of desks, chairs, shelves and other items were transported from Mary Foss on Lawrence Road to Town Hall on Geremonty Drive.

Six Department of Public Works employees unloaded the trucks, and hauled the furniture and supplies to office space formerly occupied by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

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