Prospective buyer files legal action for sale of North Hadley Village Hall

HADLEY – A resident seeks a preliminary injunction in Hampshire Superior Court to prevent the selection board from accepting new offers to purchase North Hadley Village Hall, alleging that the board broke a contract with him for the acquisition and renovation of the property.

On Monday, Ryan O’Hara, a lawyer for Bacon Wilson, PC of Northampton, filed a lawsuit for Peter Heronemus, of Mount Warner Road, against the Select Board.

“Heronemus remains ready, willing and able to complete the transaction as required and stipulated in the agreement,” the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, the Special Council reached an agreement in the fall of 2019 with Heronemus for the sale of the 1864 building and the ball field at 239 River Drive, but reneged on the arrangement last month and “violated the pact of good faith and fair use inherent in said contract.

In March, the select committee explained that it was ending discussions with Heronemus due to the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations. Christian Stanley, then a member of the board of directors, who is named in the lawsuit with President David J. Fill II and members Joyce Chunglo, Jane Nevinsmith and John Waskiewicz, explained that Heronemus wanted more control over the historical aspects of the building.

The court filing arrives before the 2 p.m. deadline Wednesday for responses to a revised request for proposals for vacant town property that once housed the town’s parks and recreation department and firefighters’ vehicles. The ad says the property is valued at $ 490,600 and that any bidder would have to agree to a historic preservation restriction.

City administrator Carolyn Brennan said she couldn’t comment on the trial because she hadn’t seen it yet.

After submitting an initial deposit of $ 2,500 in 2019, Heronemus agreed to purchase the property for $ 70,000 and turn the upper level into three apartments and the lower level into community and concert space. A 1950s garage that was used by firefighters would become a personal workshop for Heronemus.

Heronemus said on Monday that he still wanted the deal with the city to be finalized.

“I strongly believe in this proposal,” Heronemus said. “I wanted to do this project for a number of reasons and I got the idea to reopen the doors to the community.”

Her business partner Amy Gates said the hope is to bring people together as the building has long been used for community events.

“We felt our proposal was consistent with that legacy,” said Gates.

Gates has long dreamed of launching a chamber music series and jazz program in an intimate setting. Poetry readings and receptions may also be possible in the building, with the apartments providing the necessary income to make it financially feasible.

The grass on the ball field would be used for parking and the possibility of a weekly farmers market, Gates said.

Although the selection committee accepted the Heronemus proposal on October 16, 2019, it could not go ahead with the signing of a contract until what is known as Article 97 of the protection of the state constitution for the ball field be abolished. This limited the use of this area to recreational activities

Residents who packed a municipal assembly in November 2019 agreed to ask the Legislature for this deletion. The measure was passed by the state legislature in late July 2020.

The lawsuit argues that the alleged breaches of the contract by the city and the council included a September 4, 2020 request by former city administrator David Nixon for a historic bell to be removed from the steeple. In return, Heronemus demanded that the Belfry be cleaned of pigeon debris and that the oil tanks on the property be treated.

Since that time, Heronemus also said he was concerned that the process of making the deal was not accurately described by board members, including other unexpected demands that included the signing of historical preservation and land development agreements that were not part of the original. auction proposal.

The lawsuit states that “the Model Historic Preservation Restriction Agreement would only be accepted if certain specific modifications were made regarding exterior modifications and the terms of the agreement governing restoration / reconstruction after loss from an accident.”

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]

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