At a long and sometimes contentious meeting Thursday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to call a Special Town Meeting for the town to consider a proposal to purchase the Smith property on Main Street. The Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 7.
The proposal is being put forward by Partners For Planning, a citizen’s group that came together to explore possibilities for the property that befit the historic and residential character of the town center. I have been heavily involved in the effort.
The group has been researching the property for a year and has been meeting recently with various town officials, town boards, and state agencies in order to refine and build support for the plan. The group has also been negotiating with the sellers and announced at Thursday’s Selectmen’s meeting that they have come to agreement with the sellers on a price to take to the town meeting.
The concept plan (at left) calls for the town to purchase the property, clean up the contamination with possible financial assistance from state and federal sources, sell a portion of the cleaned up property to a private developer for an appropriately scaled 40B development of townhouse-style units designed to fit with the historic district, and keep a portion of the property for redevelopment as a traditional New England town green with a gazebo. The housing would include both market-rate and affordable units. Two of the existing buildings would likely be razed, the third (715 Main St.) would be evaluated. Financial modeling suggests that the project would be an income-producing investment for the town, with a payback of 10 years or less. The financial modeling includes a contribution from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund of $125,000.
You can watch streaming video of the Selectmen’s meeting here. The Smith property discussion begins at the 125 minute mark.
Stay tuned. Lots more to come.