Will Westborough’s Spurr House be saved from wrecking ball?

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Open houses held to garner interest from prospective buyers

By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

The Spurr House

Westborough – The town-owned property at 7 Parkman St., known as the Spurr House, is once again on the market. Neighbors and many other town residents are hopeful that this latest effort to save the circa-1845 property will be successful, saving the home from demolition.

In late 2014 the town’s American Legion Stowell-Parker Post 163 moved out of the building that it had used since 1946. The home borders the town’s Forbes Municipal Building (FMB) as well as a private residence owned by Bob and Tania Pano.

In the ensuing years since the Legion moved out, the house – and what should be done with it next – has been a point of contention, both in town meetings and on social media.

Town officials had attempted to sell the property but after only one bid was received (submitted by former Town Manager Jim Malloy’s son) which was under the assessed value, they chose to instead try to get approval from voters at Town Meeting for a demolition permit. In doing so, they hoped to then build a parking lot on the space, which they said was needed to accommodate the busy downtown.

Residents decried that decision saying that due diligence had not been done and not enough of an effort made to sell the property.

In answer, the Board of Selectmen established the Spurr House Advisory Committee. Earlier this year, town officials agreed to once again open a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the property. They also agreed to place a For Sale sign in front of the home. Residents had cited that as part of the problem before – not enough people knew the home was for sale, they claimed, in spite of the fact a number of town meetings had been held about the property and newspaper articles had been written about it.

Officials also agreed to hold open houses at the home for interested parties to do a preliminary check of the property. The first open house, held Aug. 9, attracted about 20 interested people.

The property consists of 9,138 square feet of land, with the home a two story wood frame single family dwelling. The building contains 3,952 square feet of living area with forced hot water, oil heat, and an asphalt roof and has access to town water and sewer. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Going through the house, one can see remnants of a once beautiful home. The many rooms are spacious, especially for a home of that era. There are a number of fireplaces throughout the home. The front staircase is lovely with period wallpaper: two other smaller ones in the back of the house would most likely need to be replaced.

A great deal of renovations will certainly be necessary throughout the entire home and part of the outside; there is apparent water damage in some of the rooms. The two small kitchen areas would have to be completely remodeled as would the two bathrooms, which are only powder rooms.

The basement, like many homes of that era, is quite rustic with a dirt floor in part of it. The steam boiler, however, is only about 10 years old.

Town Manager Kristi Williams noted that the home cannot be listed on MLS or through a Realtor because commissions cannot be paid since it is a town-owned property.

A complete RFP for the property, which also includes the town bylaws, is available in the Town Manager’s Office at Town Hall. All proposals are due by Friday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m.

As cited by the RFP, “The Town of Westborough reserves the right to reject any or all proposals, waive any defects, informalities and  minor  irregularities,  to  accept  exceptions  to  these  specifications,  and  make  such  award  or  act otherwise as it alone may deem in its best interest.

“The Property is offered ‘as is’ and no warranties or representations are made by the Town with respect to the Property except that it is an approved building lot and is located within a residential zone. Each Proposer, who submits a proposal, is responsible for making its own investigation of the Property.”

An additional Open House will be held at the property on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10-11 a.m. Members of the Spurr House Advisory Committee will be present to answer questions.