March 12, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
NEW HAVEN — A local family has stepped forward to express an interest in buying the Dana-King House, a historic home owned by the town and located next to New Haven’s town offices. Raymond and Deborah Fortier of New Haven said that, if possible, they would like to buy the house and move it to their property at 216 North St., keeping it in the village but not on town property.
“I’ve always loved it. Every time I’ve gone to an event there, I thought it was so pretty,” said Deborah Fortier. “I didn’t want to see the house torn down or taken away.”
The Fortiers had the idea in recent weeks, and approached the selectboard just a few days before town meeting. The proposal is still in the very preliminary stages. “There are a lot of details to be ironed out.”
Before the Fortiers’ proposal was discussed on Town Meeting Day, town residents voted to make all major decisions regarding the Dana-King House by Australian ballot, so the town would hold a public hearing and Australian ballot vote before any sale could be made.
The King House is more than a century old. The town of New Haven bought it in 1999 in hopes that the building, or just the land it is on, could be used as a larger and more modern space for the town offices, now located under the adjacent town hall. But two bond proposals for renovating the house have been made and voted down since it was bought, and the town has struggled to find a use for the property.
Selectman Keith Hall said he thought this could be a good way to address the range of opinions on what to do about the historic building. “This seems to fit … all the people that have said anything about it,” he said.
Fortier said that if the deal goes forward, they would most likely live in the house themselves, which would make the property taxable again, as some have wanted.
The town would retain the land the King House is on, which Hall said the board still hopes to use to meet the growing space needs of the town office. “It’s going to take a little bit of maneuvering, but that’s the basic idea,” he said.
The town bought the house for $152,500. In addition to routine maintenance, Hall said the town has spent about $12,000 on repainting the house in the years since, according to Hall.
Town center project coordinator Jerry Smiley said he thought this proposal would meet the goals of most interested parties. “Some of the people who didn’t want the King House removed seem to be happy about it,” he said.
Many details, including a price for the house, have not been negotiated yet, but Hall said he expected the vote would take place as early as the spring. An Australian ballot vote would have to be preceded by a public hearing to discuss the issue, which must be warned a month in advance.