By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Westborough–The Board of Selectmen Aug. 26 interviewed six more residents who want to serve on the committee that will steer planning for the redevelopment of the Westborough State Hospital property, and accepted an offer from two local design firms to provide support to the committee at no cost.
Waterman Design Inc. and Smook Architecture & Urban Design, both Westborough-based firms, offered 40 hours of pro bono staff time each to help the committee carry out its work.
Architecture Principal Clay Smook said his experience includes adaptive reuse of historical structures similar to those on the site, as well as extensive master planning work. Waterman Design also worked on behalf with a developer who was interested in purchasing the site to create a movie studio.
“We understand the topography and the property lines and I think we can help with the panning process, especially in getting ideas on paper,” said Randy Waterman.
Selectmen plan to appoint the reuse committee at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 9. Last month it interviewed four potential candidates and Aug. 26, six more residents explained why they wanted to be part of the planning process.
During his interview, Matt McCafferty said he sees the redevelopment as a “rare opportunity to make something special” and an opportunity to “leave a great mark that can last for a long time.”
Warren Anderson, who lives across Lake Chauncy from the hospital, said he would work to support the preservation of the natural resources on the rural piece of property.
Betheda Shuman said she wanted to represent “a different kind of population” on the committee, saying the town needed to do more to give the town's youth a place to gather, socialize and recreate.
“I always thought it was wonderful how other cities and towns seem to have a place where kids could have a safe environment to gather,” she said.
Brian Bush said his experience on the Planning Board would help him to know what would make the site attractive to a developer and said the project “can define the town of Westborough” in the future.
Landscape designer Paula Less said the town should start to court colleges and universities to look at using the site for satellite locations.
“It would put people on the property around the clock,” she said.
Noting that he has been involved with the property since 1975, and has worked with state agencies still operating on the site, Gary Wittman called the town's purchase of the property from the state “one of the best deals since the Louisiana Purchase.”