This article appeared on October 3, 2014 in The Gardner News.
A private company of which City Councillor Scott Graves is listed as a manager currently owes the city approximately $5,500 in unpaid taxes, according to city records.
Bushwood LLC failed to pay their 2014 taxes, valued at $5,492.35, on their property at 158 Rear Main St. in Gardner, according to the tax collector’s office.
They are also late on their first payment, valued at more than $3,000, for 2015.
The private company is jointly managed by Dean LaPrade of Westminster, James P. Lampert of Wayland and Councillor Graves.
When reached via phone, Mr. LaPrade said he was “not really sure” how the company fell behind on their taxes. He also said they were “in the process of selling it.”
Mr. LaPrade hung up before further questions could be asked.
Despite multiple attempts Councillor Graves could not be reached for comment prior to press time, and a phone number for Mr. Lampert was not listed.
Officials at the tax collectors office said the amount owed isn’t “unusual” and that it is not uncommon for people to be three to four months overdue.
Gardner has a “99 percent” collection rate and residents are required to pay interest on overdue taxes, according to Director Charline Daigle. She said the back taxes would have to be more than two years old before the city would consider taking the tax title.
The building in question is located behind the Main Street storefronts on the 100 block.
The old factory building has recently fallen into disrepair.
A few years ago, a construction company and boxing gym rented space in the property, according to Massachusetts Land Records. It’s assessed to be in “very poor” condition.
When the businesses moved out, the heat was turned down and the pipes broke leaving the structure without sprinkler systems, according to Fire Chief Richard Ares.
“We were having all kinds of problems with it for awhile (when it was vacant),” said Chief Ares.
During that period, officials reported mattresses in the building and other signs that homeless individuals had found shelter there. Deputy Chief John Bernard said there were people caught back there during that period.
In June 2013, Bushwood LLC was ordered to secure the building, which they did, according to Chief Ares. The security measures appear to be maintained, and officials said the complaints have died down.
The property is part of the city’s 20 year urban renewal plan.
Officials hope to build a road that will snake around the new police station and then continue to the Levi Heywood Memorial Library. The area would then be able to be redeveloped as a new section of the downtown.
Director of Community Planning and Development Trevor Beauregard confirmed the city would like to see something done with the property.
However, “we don’t have any current plan,” he said.
He added that the city would not be able to pursue anything unless they had site control, “which we don’t have.”