Killingworth residents overwhelmingly approved the town's decision to lease the farmhouse at Parmelee Farm to the Killingworth Historical Society at a town meeting Thursday night.
Nearly all of the roughly 150 residents that showed up to Killingworth Elementary School affirmed an agreement that had been in place for about year before its validity was recently questioned by two residents.
"I believe this lease is in the best interest of the Town of Killingworth," First Selectman Cathy Iino told residents during brief remarks prior to the vote. "It gives the town a strong partner in preserving a piece of our historic legacy and making it accessible to the public."
Last year, town officials agreed to lease the farmhouse to the KHS for $1 per year for 99 years, with a requirement that the society be responsible for the interior upkeep of the building. A shorter lease was granted for the garage behind the farmhouse as well.
After two residents questioned the process this fall, Iino scheduled the town meeting to avoid any further discrepancy over whether the town charter required the lease to be approved by voters.
Michael Board, one of the residents who questioned the lease, stood before selectman during the meeting and asked whether a structural analysis of the farmhouse had been completed and how much repairs might cost to bring the bulding up to code (see video).
"The state has awarded the town [a] $150,000 [STEAP grant] to go towards the work at the farm. The two main things that we're going to be using that money for is getting the house up to code and working on getting a restroom facility," answered Tim Gannon, chairman of the Parmelee Farm Steering Commitee, a volunteer group that has spent countless hours restoring the property.
Iino said any additional town funding would require approval from voters.
Following a few more questions from Board, several residents spoke in favor of the agreement and the overall management of the property by the town.
"That was an eyesore and you've done a great job," Shelly Cumpstone said.
John McMahon, a member of Killingworth's Board of Finance, said the decision to allow the Historical Society to use the building will help preserve it.
"To have this occupied by the Historical Society, in my opinion, is the best thing that could happen in the long term," he said.
"If we own it, let's use it for something good and something nobile that this town can be proud of," said George Keithan, who told the audience that many of the town's historic artifacts were stored in the basement of town hall and deserved a new home.
"I love going by there and seeing the Christmas lights. It's a wonderful thing," he added.
Following comments, most raised their hands in support of the two leases, while very few voted against the agreement (see video).
Afterwards, Iino appeared to be looking foward to the farm's future.
"There are so many possibilities," she said.