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Watertown Officials to Negotiate with St. James Church to Lease Former-East Branch Library

The Armenian church's bid was preferred by the Town Council. Town Manager Michael Driscoll will work out details with the church.

St. James Armenian Church wants to lease the former East Branch Library, and the Town Council gave approval to start negotiations to lease the building on Tuesday night.

The church on Mt. Auburn Street sits next door to the former library, and the church proposed leasing the building for 30 years for $24,000, with options to extend the lease up to 50 more years. .

The Russell Cooperative Preschool also bid, proposing a 25-year lease at $1 a year

The proposed use for the East Branch church activities and community events, said Councilor Vincent Piccirilli. More details would be worked out in negotiations between Town Manager Michael Driscoll and St. James representatives, Piccirilli added.

Councilors preferred the St. James proposal.

“I feel strongly that the St. James proposal be accepted,” said District A Councilor Angeline Kounelis.  “It is a natural fit and it is beneficial to the taxpayers, which is of utmost importance.”

St. James also proposed buying the building for $1 million, but the Council’s Public Works Committee recommended going with a lease, Piccirilli said.

The Council voted unanimously approved allowing lease negotiations to start.

The North Branch Library on Orchard Street was not bid upon. Piccirilli said Steve Magoon, director of Economic Development and Planning, would contact Russell Preschool to see if they are interested in leasing the building, as well as another preschool that expressed interest, but did not submit a bid.

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