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Greater Salem Caregivers may make the move to Town Hall

SALEM - The Greater Salem Caregivers may soon have a new home inside the Salem Town Hall.

During Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Keith Hickey and Caregivers Executive Director Richard O'Shaughnessy shared details of the organization's proposal to rent space from the town that was once used by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Right now, the organization is located at the old Mary Foss School on Lawrence Road. Built in 1924, the Foss School has most recently been used to house three community service organizations - Rockingham Community Action and ServiceLink also have offices there, and the town of Salem's Human Services department is housed in the building. However, the aging building has multiple issues, including a failing roof furnace and insulation, according to Hickey and early last summer, the board debated whether close the former school, though a final decision hasn't been made.

Hickey said that Rockingham Community Action had expressed interest in moving to the 1,000 square-foot, former DMV office, but was unable to obtain funding. 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.

"We'd certainly like to entertain the idea of moving in," he told the board. "We'd really like to continue our great relationship with the town's welfare office."

Hickey said an agreement between the town and the Caregivers would be drafted in time for the Nov. 26 selectmen meeting, when further discussion is planned.

"The expectation would be that some type of rent would be paid to the town," he noted, though exact figures have yet to be determined. The board unanimously gave its blessings for Hickey to enter into contract negotiations with the Caregivers in preparation for the upcoming meeting. However, if moving to the Municipal Center doesn't prove feasible, Hickey said another possible option for the Caregivers would be to move into vacant space in the lower level of the town's courthouse. At least one board member balked at the latter idea. "I fully support reviewing a lease for this building here," Selectman Michael Lyons said, motioning to the inside of Town Hall. "I don't want to see anyone going to the courthouse: the courthouse needs to remain a courthouse."

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