By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The committee studying potential reuses of the Westborough State Hospital will likely ask Town Meeting voters this fall to fund an assessment of the state of the existing buildings on the property.
State Hospital Reuse Committee Chair Brian Bush told selectmen June 9 the committee wants to hire a firm to evaluate the buildings and come up with cost estimates for demolition so that when developers are invited to submit proposals for the parts of the property that will be privately redeveloped, they will have a clear idea of the costs they will face.
Bush said he was told it would cost from $5 to $6 million to demolish and remove the buildings with half of that cost related to asbestos removal. The committee is not proposing the town do the work, but does need solid cost estimates to help establish the property’s market value.
The committee has also begun to look at ways to divide the property by the proposed reuse. Wooded shorelines would be protected from development with conservation restrictions and the “great lawn” property where soccer fields are located would be set aside for active recreation. A third section would be reserved for other municipal uses and two other parcels would be set aside for private redevelopment, possibly in phases.
Town Manager Jim Malloy said he and some other members of the committee had hoped for a more aggressive time frame, with developer interest sought sooner to take advantage of the current favorable real estate and financing markets. Instead, the committee will seek funds for the study this fall and hope to have a formal reuse proposal ready for Town Meeting next spring.
Also at the meeting, selectmen met with the consultants hired to create a municipal power aggregation plan to allow residents to join with the town in securing favorable pricing for electricity. Under the plan, residents will be automatically included unless they choose to opt out. Residents would still pay their bills each month to National Grid, which would remain responsible for maintenance and service of the electric grid, and would be given the option of choosing various levels of renewable energy at varying price points.
Paul Gromer of Peregrine Energy said the plan could be ready to be launched by next May after periods for public comment and review by the Department of Public Utilities.
The board also voted to name Kopelman & Paige as town counsel following a search that culminated last month with the interviews of three finalist firms.