TIVERTON — Just weeks after its sale to a local developer, Tiverton’s old Ranger School is fenced in, boarded up, marked with “Private” signs, and being torn down.
“By December 31 of this year the building will be down. It’s going to be down as soon as possible,” said John A. Pagliarini, its new owner, in an interview in early August at the time he was negotiating to buy the property.
Mr. Pagliarini is a Providence lawyer, Tiverton resident, and owner of “Property Assessors, LLC,” a company he created in March of 2000. By an agreement dated Aug. 29, the town sold the old school building and the land accompanying it to Mr. Pagliarini’s company.
Just before midnight at its regular meeting two days before, the Town Council had voted unanimously to approve the final sale of the Ranger school to Mr. Pagliarini’s firm, for $25,750, which after brokers fees of $20,000, would net the town $5,750.
Certified Revaluation Company (CRC), which for tax purposes last year concluded a full revaluation of all properties in town, has assessed the land on which Ranger School sits at a value of $72,000, and the building itself at $680,200 (for a a total assessed valuation of $752,200).
These values, which are accessible through the town tax assessor’s webpage, carry CRC’s disclaimer, that “the proposed valuations reflect an assessment ratio of 100% and relate to the market value of the property as of December 31, 2011.”
Last spring the town council approved an auction process for the sale of the school. After responding to an RFP from the town for broker services, Hogan & Associates, and Matt Hadfield, a principal at the Middletown real estate firm, were selected to handle the auction.
At auction, and after a few months of being on the market, just one bid was received for the purchase of Ranger School, said Mr. Hadfield, who confirmed an initial bid amount of $50,00 from John Pagliarini. However, Mr. Pagliarini in early August, during the time he was negotiating for the property, said, “I did not bid $50,000. It might be close, but not that number.”
Whatever his early offer, it was subsequently reduced to the offer the town finally accepted of $25,750. The reason given for the reduction by officials involved was that the building contained asbestos and the costs of its abatement and of subsequent demolition.
Tiverton school records document regular government safety inspections and inventories every three years going back to the 1980’s of the extent of both friable and non-friable asbestos in the building. The records also document findings that the building was safe for both students and teachers during those years.
Mr. Pagliarini said in early August, when he was negotiating for the property, that he commissioned his own asbestos report, at a cost of “several thousand dollars.” His report, he said, documented asbestos in the roof and in the walls behind the bricks, findings which he said were “dramatic.” He declined to make a copy of his report available to this newspaper.
Town Administrator James Goncalo, Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz, and Town Council President Jay Lambert all said that Mr. Pagliarini’s asbestos report was never provided to the town or to any council members during negotiations.
Nor were any written estimates of the cost of asbestos abatement and the costs for demolition provided to the town during negotiations. Mr. Pagliarini, in early August, estimated the cost of demolition work of between $150,000 and $250,000.
Mr. Teitz said the consensus of council members when they made their unanimous decision to sell Ranger school was, “let’s get rid of it, let’s get it back on the tax rolls. They regarded it as a liability.”
Behind the fencing that now surrounds the old school on Stafford Road, asbestos abatement is underway Mr. Goncalo said last Monday.
Contacted by telephone regarding his plans and activities at the site, Mr. Pagliarini declined comment.
In August, though, he that he had “several ideas” for the use of the property, including an “office or retail” structure. At the time he characterized the structure as a “wasting asset” and “a blight to the town.”
He said that by December 2013 there will be a commercial building on the site, one that would be “approved by the planning board” and would be “a legally permitted use the town will welcome.”
Mr. Teitz said the sales document contains a reverter clause that returns the property to the town if the building is not razed within a year.