Westborough prepares to vote on State Hospital property acquisition
By Chris Kopacko, Contributing Writer
Held at the Westborough High School auditorium, the meeting was the third and final public hearing to discuss the proposed land acquisition before it comes before Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 21, where residents will vote whether or not the town will purchase the 95-acre property at a price tag of $2.2 million over 10 years, or $220,000 per year. If purchased, the town would then share with the state anywhere from 30-50 percent of the net proceeds of future development, depending on incentives such as comprehensive studies on land use, adherence to the state’s sustainable development principles, and how quickly the town could resell the land for development.
Malloy stressed the “gigantic benefits” the town would see in acquiring the former state hospital land, which included an estimated potential of $1.3 million in tax revenue per year. Westborough would also be able to preserve the six soccer fields currently utilized by the state’s Department of Youth Services that are located on the property, as well as have control over who they sell to for future development.
“Instead of having the state decide how this property is redeveloped, the town would be in the driver’s seat,” Malloy said.
One resident inquired how open the Board of Selectmen would be to developing some of the property for residential use.
“The intent is not to develop this [property] into maximum residential usage,” Ian Johnson, the chair of the Board of Selectmen responded. Johnson also stressed that while development plans would be done with “substantial community involvement,” the focus is first on the land acquisition.
“We can’t decide on what to do with the property unless we make this first step in acquiring it,” he said. “We believe what we’ve done is strike a very favorable deal for [Westborough].”
State Sen. Jaime Eldridge, D-Acton and State Rep. Matthew Beaton, R-Shrewsbury, both attended the hearing to listen to public opinions, and urged residents to contact their offices with any questions or concerns.
The Oct. 21 Town Meeting will also be held in the Westborough High School auditorium.
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