February 1, 2023

Negotiations Continue on Essex Savings Bank Lease of Vacant Space at Chester Town Hall

CHESTER— Negotiations are continuing between the board of selectmen and Essex Savings Bank on the bank’s lease of vacant ground-floor space at the town hall building on Route 154.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday he and¬†Selectman Tom Englert reviewed a proposal from the bank in a closed session at the meeting Tuesday night, but deferred any decisions because Selectman Larry Sypher was unable to attend the meeting. “We’ve got some options to discuss and we need to have all three of us in the room to do it,” he said.

Meehan said the annual rental payment for the 3,200-square-feet, and certain terms, remain under discussion. The ground-floor space was left vacant at the end of June when Bank of America closed the branch that had occupied the space since the town hall opened at the building in 2003. Bank of America had been paying the town $76,000 per year for the space since the last lease negotiation in 2007.

Residents at an April 17 informational meeting urged the selectmen to offer the space for another bank, rather than convert the area for town use.  Essex Savings Bank representatives stepped forward at the meeting to confirm the bank is interested in opening a new branch in the space. Essex Savings Bank was the only responder to a request for proposals on the space published by the town in June.

Meehan had been hoping to present a proposed lease agreement with the bank to the voters for approval at a scheduled Aug. 29 town meeting, but he acknowledged Wednesday an agreement may not be ready for the Aug. 29 town meeting. Meehan said he remains optimistic the board and the bank will reach an agreement that would be presented to the voters for approval at a town meeting, probably in September.