UNION — The Union Select Board authorized a management agreement to allow the new nonprofit Thompson Memorial Association to take control of the Thompson Community Center at their Tuesday, Jan. 4 meeting, held via Zoom.

The board also passed a special town meeting warrant for Jan. 25 to rescind the prior lease with the Thompson Community Center Association and authorize spending town funds on the building.

The association notified the town of their intent to end the lease effective Dec. 31, 2021. This nonprofit had been overseeing operations of the building since entering a 99-year lease with the town in the late 1980s.

Town attorney Roger Therriault prepared the management agreement.

Therriault said the reason for both the agreement and the town meeting was the lease with the Thompson Community Center Association. The town cannot enter a new lease before terminating the prior one.

“A lease would be in violation of anything with the (Thompson Community Center Association),” Therriault said. “The agreement is to put in place an authority to allow the new nonprofit to operate the building.”

Because the prior lease was authorized via a town meeting vote, Therriault said it must end the same way.

The management agreement allows the Thompson Memorial Association nonprofit to take over operation of the building until voters decide a long-term plan at the June town meeting. The wording of the agreement also allows an extension or a premature end if necessary.

The Thompson Memorial Association will report directly to the Union Select Board.

The Jan. 25 Town Meeting warrant asks voters to authorize spending money from the town’s unappropriated fund balances for the benefit of the Thompson Community Center and to reimburse that amount through taxes in the 2022-23 budget.

Therriault said the funds spent from the unappropriated fund balance should be replaced to avoid a reduction in the unappropriated fund balance.

The wording of the warrant asks what sum the voters will authorize the board to spend, but recommends $30,000.

The original wording recommended $25,000. Select Board Chair Adam Fuller said $25,000 should cover the expenses for the building, but other board members supported increasing that to $30,000 in case of unexpected expenditures.

“I’d hate to see us get to April and find out that we are short on money,” said Board Member Bill Lombardi.

Fuller said the $25,000 was a realistic number based on his math, but agreed it did not leave much room. “When I do the math, it’s pretty close,” he said.

Fuller added the Thompson Memorial Association will be expected to offset and decrease these costs as much as possible through fundraising and other means.

The board also tasked the town’s Thompson Community Center committee, a separate entity from the nonprofit, to look into the long-term options for the building and present them to the board.

“Bring some hard numbers to take to the voters,” Fuller said.

The Jan. 25 town meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in the William Pullen Meeting Room.

Erik Amundsen, a member of the nonprofit, said the Thompson Memorial Association met Wednesday, Jan. 5 and signed the management agreement.

Amundsen said the association is anxious to get up and running and fill vacant spaces in the building with tenants.

For more information about leasing space in the Thompson Community Center, call Amundsen at 542-1404.

An account has been set up at Maritime Energy to accept donations to pay for heating oil. This account is under the Thompson Memorial Association, number 341686.

On Thursday, Jan. 6 the Union Select Board held an emergency meeting where they authorized a one-time payment of $5,000 to the Thompson Memorial Association.

Fuller said if this $5,000 was what it took to get the Thompson Community Center to the Jan. 25 meeting, then it was money well-spent.

The financial warrant for the money included an explanation that the members of the select board would be personally responsible for repaying the money to the town should the town meeting warrant not pass.

Board member Josh White said he was comfortable with voting to spend this money, as it was $1,000 per board member.

White cautioned this would be the only money he would vote to spend on the building in such a manner, though. After this, it will be on the town to support the building.

This $5,000 will be included in the $30,000 in the town warrant.

Lombardi explained the town warrant item was not a “blank check,” but was instead authorizing the town to spend up to $30,000 on the building should it be needed.

The next select board meeting will be Jan. 18.