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Waterford — The town is poised to enter into an agreement to evaluate the Green Survival Gardens nursery property, in order to decide whether to purchase the property.
The property has not been listed on the open market, according to owner Rick Verkade. He said the reason for offering the property for sale to the town is that he is in poor health, and not because of business performance.
“We’re just keeping busy,” Verkade said Thursday.
He declined to comment further about the state of his health.
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved the town’s purchase of an option on the property. The option to buy costs $1 and will become effective as soon as Verkade and First Selectman Daniel Steward sign a contract. Steward said the current asking price is $305,000.
Steward said Tuesday he did not want to see a business leave town but that he felt it was the town’s responsibility to explore purchasing the property. On Thursday, he commented that Verkade’s health made it hard for him to run the long-established business that neighbors Town Hall on Rope Ferry Road.
“If we can help him go into retirement comfortably, that would be great,” Steward said.
Town Attorney Robert Avena is still working on the contract. As part of the contract, Verkade would not be permitted to offer the property for sale to other potential buyers, according to Steward. He said that the contract would not limit how the town could use the property.
Steward said that the town must evaluate the property to determine if there has been any chemical contamination and to determine what might be involved in cleaning up possible contamination. Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, the town will decide whether to purchase the property.
He said the concerns about chemicals are standard.
“It’s simply the type of business that it is,” he said. “… But that’s like everything else you buy. Everything’s got issues.”
Verkade said he and his father Hendrik Jr. purchased the store in 1975 from Verkade’s second cousin Tony Deurloo. Deurloo had opened the nursery as Deurloo’s Garden Center in the 1950s.
Steward said any potential purchase of the property is six months to a year away, and he said he did not know how the town would use the nursery if it purchases it.
Verkade said he does not know what his plan will be if the town does not purchase the property, saying that the possible sale was still very new.
“I’m as much in the air as everybody,” he said.