November 22, 2017

Town leases out parcel for Maple Tree Place parking lot

Observer photo by Jason Starr Cypress Equities is leasing this parcel from the Town of Williston for construction of a parking lot to support Maple Tree Place businesses.

Observer photo by Jason Starr
Cypress Equities is leasing this parcel from the Town of Williston for construction
of a parking lot to support Maple Tree Place businesses.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard has agreed to lease about 1.3 acres of town-owned property at Maple Tree Place to the plaza’s owner, Texas-based Cypress Equities, for the construction of a 61-space parking lot.

The parcel, currently a sparsely used lawn behind Men’s Wearhouse and next to a stormwater retention pond, is approved for a parking lot by the Williston Development Review Board. The selectboard unanimously supported the proposal in July, authorizing Town Manager Rick McGuire to sign the lease. The town will receive $330 per parking space annually, according to the lease agreement, minus a 20 percent credit to Cypress Equities to support construction of the lot. The lease will bring in about $16,000 to the town in the first year, McGuire said. The 20 percent credit will expire in 20 years. “The town has an interest in seeing that this development succeeds.

It’s a major property in the community with a lot of businesses,” McGuire told selectboard members at their July 25 meeting. “The owners and a number of the tenants feel this parking area is extremely important to the continued survival of their operation there.” Sam Handy, who owns the Grazers restaurant at Maple Tree Place, said Cypress Equities has been responsive to the needs of the businesses in the plaza and that increased parking is one of them. “It’s needed, and it’s a space that’s not being used,” he said of the parcel. Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs noted the finality of the construction, wondering if the town should consider another use for the land.

McGuire said the parcel has been in town ownership roughly 20 years with no plan for its use. Given its location, the parcel is most valuable to Cypress Equities as an enhancement to Maple Tree Place, he said. “The town is giving up a piece of land basically forever. That’s how we have to look at it,” Fehrs said before voting to authorize the lease. “I just want to have as much confidence as possible that five years down the road, we aren’t going to (regret it).”

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