Westborough to acquire state hospital land for $2.2 million
By Chris Kopacko, Contributing Writer
The town voted by way of 248 in favor to 14 opposed via an electronic vote, the first town meeting in Westborough to implement such a voting process. A two-thirds majority vote was required to pass the article.
The $2.2 million will be financed over a ten-year period at a zero percent interest rate, with 50 percent of the town's resale net proceeds paid to the commonwealth. The proceeds amount may be scaled back to 30 percent if the town meets various requirements after the acquisition, such as the time of redevelopment and adopting the commonwealth's sustainable development principles.
Dubbed as a “very fair deal” by the Board of Selectmen back in August, the Westborough State Hospital land acquisition ultimately gives Westborough the power to decide how the property will be developed. The property will be zoned as unrestricted, meaning that both commercial and residential development opportunities will be available.
Westborough resident Dominic Capriole highlighted this advantage while speaking on the article.
“The greater benefit here is the opportunity to manage this resource, and in that light, we should focus on where the financial benefit comes from,” he said. “It's from managing the resource, not necessarily from the revenue of selling this property.”
According to Town Manager Jim Malloy, Westborough plans on closing the terms of the deal with the state in June of 2014, at which point the town could begin resale for development.
Other residents, such as Anna Tortora of 20 Mayberry Drive, voiced concerns not over the acquisition of the property, but how it would be used.
“My mother worked for the state hospital … I don's want to see any more homes or playgrounds or anything put onto that property. You'se got some historical buildings on there,” she said.
Paula Less of Blake Street warned residents of being too eager to resell the land and urged them to consider zoning it as open space for no development.
“Once you sell it, it's gone,” she said. “I think we need to stop being shortsighted, and look at what is in the future for us.”
Town officials reminded residents that the article did not determine how the land would be used, but simply allowed the town to purchase the approximate 90 acres from the state. Portions of the property would remain in the commonwealth's ownership, such as the Hadley Building and Allen Hall which are used by the Department of Youth Services, as well as a women's detention facility.
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