Kent may relocate offices

(Original publication: January 15, 2004)

KENT — A potential $12,000 annual rent increase is forcing Kent to seek new, temporary office space, Supervisor William Tulipane said — blaming the jump on former Supervisor Annmarie Baisley's failure to sign a new lease by last month's deadline.

"This town is facing some real fiscal difficulties," Tulipane said this week. "It's started us searching and considering all of our options."

Since 1990, the town has been renting about 3,600 square feet in a Route 52 shopping center. Three office suites house the supervisor's office, the town clerk, the town accountant, the assessor, the Building Department and the Recreation Department. As of Feb. 1, Kent's new monthly rent for those facilities could be $5,350, compared to $4,350 under the lease agreement that was to be signed by Dec. 1.

Tulipane said he found the document on his desk when he came to work on his first day, Jan. 2. That, Baisley said yesterday, was because she didn't have a finalized copy of the lease until Dec. 19 and then didn't have time to act on it during her final days in office.

"That's why I left it for (Tulipane)," Baisley said. "He should have brought it to his reorganizational meeting (on Jan. 2)."

Baisley said the passing of the Dec. 1 deadline was a moot point because Town Attorney Tim Curtiss and the landlord were involved in an ongoing review of the document. Tulipane yesterday disputed that assertion, saying Baisley had the document since September.

The town and their landlord, Angelo Senno of Frangel Realty in Carmel, are still discussing the situation, officials said. Senno and his attorney, Thomas Costello, couldn't be reached yesterday for comment. But the potential jump in rent is disconcerting for one resident.

"It's upsetting," said Michael McDermott of Horse Pound Road. "One would certainly hope the new administration would do better in those areas."

Councilwoman Patricia Madigan and Councilman Joseph D'Ambrosio said the board wasn't aware of the expiring lease or even apprised that the document was up for renewal.

"In hindsight, maybe we should have thought about it," D'Ambrosio said.

During his campaign, Tulipane warned of a 20 percent tax increase in 2005 because of the town's dwindling budget surplus. In addition, the final price tag for a new Town Hall, police station and library being built on Route 52 — about $10.3 million — is about $2.4 million over its original April 2001 estimate.

"It's a major hit," Tulipane said of the rent increase.

The town's stay in its present quarters or in a new location would most likely be a relatively short one. The new Town Hall is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2005. The leases for the shopping center space — the unsigned one and the one that could take effect next month — are for three years and allow the town to vacate the facility with three months' notice.

Tulipane didn't want to specify where he planned to relocate town offices until those negotiations were completed. It isn't the first time, though, Kent has looked around for additional space. In 2000, officials briefly considered moving to the Kent Business Center, which sits on Route 52 between the shopping center with Larocca's IGA market and Ludingtonville Road.

Send e-mail to Michael Risinit


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Thursday, January 15, 2004