Knights of Columbus sold building, but council remains strong

The Milford Knights of Columbus Tinto Council No. 47 may have sold its building on Bridgeport Avenue, but the council is still alive and well, according to one organization leader.

The Milford Knights sold their long-time building at 625 Bridgeport Avenue to Chevrolet of Milford because council officials felt they were spending more money on the building than they were on the community programs they are tasked with supporting. Dennis Barnum, Deputy Grand Knight, said it made sense to sell the building to free up money for the host of community efforts the group supports.

“It’s all good stuff,” Barnum said about the sale, noting that the club sold the building and land for $1.6 million, which allowed them to pay cash for a new building. Barnum didn’t want to identify the new location yet because the Knights will not close on the new building until January and a company is still operating there.

Barnum said taxes on the Bridgeport Avenue property kept going “up and up”: According to the city tax office, the property is appraised at $1.26 million and taxes for 2014 were $24,774. The club is current on its tax bill.

“When we bought it, it was a meadow,” Barnum said, explaining that the landscape has changed tremendously over the years, as have property values in what is today commonly called auto row in Milford. With climbing operating expenses, Barnum said the council thought it made sense to sell the property.

“Everything came together,” Barnum said.

Chevrolet of Milford, right next door at 655 Bridgeport Avenue, is the new owner of the 1.26-acre site and recently received unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Board to temporarily park 214 vehicles at the former Knights’ site.

Barnum said club officials believe the sale was a smart move, and they already plan to put together 100 Thanksgiving baskets for needy area residents this year, rather than the 50 they usually do, with the funds that will not go toward operating the Bridgeport Avenue building.

The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal benefit society, according to the Knights website. The Knights of Columbus formed to provide financial aid to members and their families, and to provide assistance to the sick, disabled and needy. “Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works,” the website states.

The Knights of Columbus Tinto Council 47 celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013, according to an article in the Connecticut Post. The article summarized club history, noting that the Knights of Columbus formed in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven in 1881. A charter was granted in 1888 for the Tinto Council 47, which met at various rented spaces in Milford. The Tinto Council bought and renovated the building at 625 Bridgeport Avenue in 1953, and dedicated the building in 1966. A portion of the building was rented to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but in in 1996 the Knights took over all the space when the DMV moved out.

There are two other Knights of Columbus councils in Milford, one associated with St. Mary’s Church and the other, which formed about a year ago, associated with Christ the Redeemer Church. Gennaro Barbieri, a former member of the Tinto Council who now belongs to the Christ the Redeemer council, said he has heard of several Knights organizations in the area selling their property. Barbieri said many Knights opt to belong to a church-affiliated council, and that is why there are several Knights of Columbus councils in Milford.