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Salem selectmen undecided on Caregivers making move

SALEM - The Greater Salem Caregivers will have to wait another week or so before they receive a final answer on whether they can move to a new home at Town Hall.

Last month, Richard O'Shaughnessy, the organization's executive director, initially approached selectmen in hopes of renting space from the town in the offices that once housed a state Department of Motor Vehicles branch. The Caregivers are currently operating out of the former Mary Foss School on Lawrence Road, although the aging building needs a major overhaul and town officials are considering closing its doors permanently.

The DMV office was moved from Town Hall to 154 Main St. in late June. O'Shaughnessy said the site "would be a perfect fit" for his organization, which was founded in 1989.

On Monday night, Town Manager Keith Hickey said he has reviewed the organization's three-year lease request with the town's attorneys and is ready to move forward, with the board's approval. Hickey said a monthly rent of $200 would be charged to the Caregivers, totaling $2,400 annually, with the lease to begin Jan. 1.

The board, however, opted to table the topic until next Monday, since the proposal's wording brought about some confusion when it came to the terms "lease" versus "license."

Selectman Stephen Campbell also questioned whether a multi-year lease was appropriate in this instance, noting he believes that several other organizations, such as the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Salem Animal Rescue League, lease property from the town on a year-by-year basis.

The Caregivers aren't being charged rent at the Foss School, Hickey said.

Board members said they hope to resolve any confusion in the coming week and resolve the issue, in the Caregivers' favor, during the Dec. 3 meeting. "Let's get this done so on January 1, these folks have a home," Board Chairman Patrick Hargreaves said.

According to the organization's website, Greater Salem Caregivers volunteers help homebound adults and elders maintain independence by providing services such as transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping and friendly visiting.

The board of selectmen meets again on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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