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The Academy Building Guidance Committee has offered seven options for the Academy School building, including four commercial and three community options. The commercial options convert the building into 20 to 40 apartments, condominiums, and office space. The maximum sale price would be $300,000 and the anticipated tax revenue would range from $40,000 to $375,000 per year.
Of the three community options, one is a multi-use community center with a small theater, a large auditorium/gymnasium, a kitchen and dining area, and 16 large rooms for offices, adult education, art and music instruction, recitals, exhibits, teen and child activities, and more. The cost for renovation is estimated at about $14 million less $2 million in historic tax credits for an annual increase in property taxes of $140 per median-assessed household of $400,000 assuming a 20-year bond issue.
Another community option would be moving town government to the building and redesigning the Town Campus as a community center at a cost of about $19 million, less similar tax credit reductions for an increase of $180 per median household. The third, demolishing the building and creating a park, would cost about $1.5- to $2.5 million.
The public will have the opportunity to choose among the options in a telephone survey during the week of Nov. 26 or an online survey beginning the following week through the town website. Clearly, the choice is between selling or keeping the building and depends our vision for the future of Madison and what we’re willing to pay for it. In my opinion, we should complete the triad of a remodeled library, the Senior Center, and a new community center that would offer cultural and economic benefits to Madison, enhance the historic district, and add much-needed space for many activities. Let’s not be left with regrets down the road.
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