Editor’s Note: Source last week requested a statement from the Mayor on the Nobscot Chapel bid. The Mayor’s office said there would be no statement forthcoming. The City Council voted last week to have the Mayor speak on the issue. This letter published below was sent to the City Councilor today, Feb. 28. Once a document goes to all 11 City Councilors, it become a public documents.
Dear Chairman Giombetti and City Councilors,
Thank you for your letter of February 22, 2019, where you notified me that pursuant to Article II, Section 7 of the Framingham Home Rule Charter, “the Council vote to request that you appear before the Council on Tuesday, March 5, and present information on the RFP for the Nobscot Chapel” (bold
emphasis in original). The subsection of Article II, Section 7 of the Charter that is directly applicable to the Mayor is subsection (c), which provides:
c) Mayor: The council may require the mayor to provide specific information to it on any matter within the jurisdiction of the council. The council may require the mayor to appear before it, in person, to respond to written questions made available to the mayor at the time the request is made to the mayor, or to provide specific information on the conduct of any
aspect of the business of the municipality” (emphasis added).
By virtue of Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2013 (discussed below), the special legislation approved by Town Meeting pursuant to Article 35 of the 2013 Annual Town Meeting and enacted by the General Court relating to 780 Water Street, the needed legislative authorization for the disposition of the Nobscot Chapel already has been obtained and the Chapel can be disposed of without Council action so long as the requirements of Chapter 138 have been satisfied.
Accordingly, under Chapter 138 the Nobscot Chapel disposition is not within the jurisdiction of the Council.
Notwithstanding the terms of Chapter 138 authorizing the disposition of the Nobscot Chapel without further local legislative approval, I am happy to appear before you to address the Nobscot Plaza matter in the exercise of good faith and comity but I do request and require that the Council provide me with “written questions made available to the mayor at the time the request is made to the mayor” as required in Art. II, Section 7(c) in advance of the meeting.
Since the questions were not included in your February 22nd letter and the Council meeting in question is this Tuesday, March 5, I would ask that you provide me with the list of questions by the close of business this Friday, Mach 1 (by 2:30 p.m.) so that have adequate time to review the questions in advance of the Council Meeting on March 5.
Additionally, I ask that you schedule my appearance on the agenda right after public participation so may plan my arrival accordingly.
This letter will further address the Council’s resolution offered by Councilor Steiner referenced in your February 22nd letter, which provided:
“That the City Council requests that, if legally feasible, the administration take no action that would lead to the disposal of the Chapel until the Council has had an opportunity to meet with the Mayor.”
As noted above, after obtaining the support of the Board of Selectmen and legislative approval by Town Meeting, the General Court enacted Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2013, which authorized the disposition of the land at 780 Water Street without further local legislative approval notwithstanding the existence of general or special laws or local bylaws or ordinances to the contrary, so long as the goals of Chapter 138 are satisfied. Chapter 138 provides in relevant part as follows:
SECTION 1. (a) Notwithstanding section 43 of chapter 60 of the General Laws or any other general or special law, by-law or ordinance to the contrary, the Town of Framingham, acting by and through its board of selectmen, may, subject to section 16 of chapter 30B of the General Laws, dispose of certain real property located at 780 Water Street through the
issuance of a request for proposals.
(b) The request for proposals and disposition of the property shall reflect the unique locally- significant historic, cultural and architectural quality of the building on the property within the Nobscot community of the town of Framingham, shall achieve the goals of recovering amounts due to the town, protecting the building from demolition or relocating the building
for productive use and adding the building to the municipal tax base and shall include such other terms and conditions as the board of selectmen may determine.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Subsequent to the passage of Chapter 138, between 2014 and 2018, Framingham issued three RFPs to dispose of the land at 780 Water Street, none of which were consummated.
The most recent RFP was issued in November 2018 and was advertised in accordance with M.G.L. c. 30B, sec. 16.
Two responses were received on December 14, 2018. Chief Procurement Officer Jennifer Pratt (CPO) reviewed the two responses to Request for Proposals (“RFP”) No. 6608 with the input and assistance of an evaluation team that included James Paolini, Amanda Loomis, Eric Johnson, Jen Doherty and Chief Operating Officer Thatcher Kezer (C00).
After the evaluation team completed its review, a follow-up meeting was held on January 29, 2019 with the CPO, C00, Councilors Pam Richardson and
Charles Sisitsky and the two bidders to review the materials submitted by the bidders and to pose questions and obtain clarifying information, a process allowed under Section 7 of the RFP.
The January 29th meeting was held so that the bidders had an opportunity to discuss their responses and the CPO and City officials could obtain a clear understanding of each bidder’s response before we proceeded.
After evaluating the bidders’ submissions, reviewing the comments of the evaluation team, and considering the information provided by the bidders on January 29h, the CPO determined that Nobscot Center, LLC was a responsive bidder and the bid was awarded to Nobscot Center, LLC by
letter dated February 13, 2019 subject to certain conditions. Attorney James D. Hanrahan formally accepted the bid award and the conditions on behalf of his client, Nobscot Center, LLC, on February 20, 2019.
Under these circumstances, there is a binding contract for the City to sell the land at 780 Water Street to Nobscot Center, LLC, subject to the developer’s performance of future conditions, including negotiation of a mutually satisfactory Purchase and Sale Agreement and the developer obtaining approval of an and plan and major site plan review approval by the Planning Board.
If the City were to refuse to negotiate a Purchase and Sale Agreement at this time, it is possible that Nobscot Center, LLC might file a bid protest with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Inspector General’s Office or a Superior Court action for breach of contract and the City’s legal position in such proceedings would be subject to attack.
The disposition of the land at 780 Water Street to Nobscot Center, LLC by the City subject to the developer’s performance of certain defined future conditions fully satisfies the requirements of Chapter 138 including by, for example,
(a) obtaining reimbursement of outstanding tax bills due to the City by
virtue of the $50,000 purchase price to be paid by Nobscot Center, LLC to the City,
(b) protecting Nobscot Chapel from demolition, and
(c) relocating the Chapel to another nearby location on the Edgell Road side of Nobscot Plaza for future productive use.
I look forward to receipt of the written questions required by Art. II, Sec. 7(c) of the Framingham Home Rule Charter by 2:30 p.m. this Friday, March 1st, and to appearing before the Council on Tuesday evening March 5th at a defined time, assuming the written questions are timely received.
Mayor Yvonne Spicer