SHIRLEY -- Selectmen last week signed the latest and presumably final version of a lease agreement with American Legion Post 183 that has bounced back and forth several times.

The legion is the sole tenant in the town-owned War Memorial Building.

Negotiations finally yielded terms acceptable to both sides, said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, who sat down with the legion to hammer out the new rental deal.

The legion agreed to pay $625 a month, subject to review of the building's utility bills for the rest of the fiscal year, Garvin told the board.

The town picks up electric and fuel bills in addition to paying sewer betterments for the historic building, which houses the legion's office, bar and meeting/gathering space in the basement and includes a large hall with a stage upstairs.

After selectmen voted for the new lease, two War Memorial Building Trustees came forward requesting a warrant article be inserted for the fall Town Meeting to define lease terms such as "care and custody" and "control" and spell out their role as caretakers.

Selectmen plan to open the warrant at their next meeting on August 11.

"We really need to clarify" the difference between "care and custody," which is the trustee's purview versus selectmen's "control" of the town-owned building, said Trustees Chairman Theresa Richards.

Richards explained that in the trustees' view, Mass General Law cited by two consecutive town counsels is not sufficient to the purpose.

Garvin said the distinction seemed clear.


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The town is responsible in terms of a lease, but daily operation of the building, or "care and custody," is up to the trustees, she said.

Chairman David Swain agreed. He also said the law states that war memorial trustees should be responsible for "all memorials in town."

"But this (WM building) is the only one at issue," Richards responded.

The matter must be settled so the trustees know where they stand, she said, which is why they want to take it to Town Meeting.

"We want to know who we are," trustee and WWII veteran Norman Albert said.

Swain asked if the trustees would weigh in. "Can't the trustees tell us what they think it (care and custody) is?" he asked.

Richards said they'd discuss it at their next meeting and invited Swain to attend, then noted that he needs no invitation. As chairman of the board, he's a trustee, too, she said.