Town Administrator William Keegan introduced his plan to privatize the management of the Endicott Estate to the Endicott Commission in a meeting Wednesday evening.
With the town operating the estate at a $400,000-a-year loss plus $100,000 a year in debt payments, the town needed to look at alternative solutions for the property, according to Keegan.
“We can’t keep operating the way we are,” he said. “It comes down to a simple case of mathematics.”
In Keegan's proposed budget, he calls for the town to retain operations management for the first six months of fiscal year 2012.
Keegan emphasized to the board that the town would retain ownership of the property and adhere to the uses of the property spelled out in Katherine Endicott’s will.
The property must be used for civic and public purposes.
“My goal is to privatize the management of the estate. The estate, in my opinion, is one of our most important assets,” Keegan told the commission.
Keegan’s plan would give a management company the ability to market, host and profit from events – but Keegan said any deal would maintain a few nights each week for town committees and civic groups to use the meeting space.
Commissioner Marie Louise Kehoe favored a definite scheduled set ahead of time that lists when civic groups can use the room.
“We, as a commission, need to decide what nights we want to reserve the rooms. I certainly not in favor of giving away Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but that is a matter for us to discuss,” Kehoe said.
The management company would be in charge of scheduling events, day-to-day operations and marketing.
Keegan said he hopes to get a company that would pay the town each year and keep the profits from the events.
“[The company] has to be good at what they do in order to survive,” Keegan said. “So it’s a different approach.”
Town Meeting will vote in May on forming a committee to research the administrator’s plan. That plan could then go to Special Town Meeting in the fall or for additional funding if a suitor isn’t found, Keegan said.
Revenue has stayed the same and the town last raised prices for the estate five years ago, Keegan said after the meeting.
“We don’t seem to get a lot of progress in terms of new business,” he said.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, what Town Meeting will be voting on has been clarified.