Hudson officials relish improved communication with residents about Packard St. affordable housing


By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Hudson officials relish improved communication with residents about Packard St. affordable housing
A file photo shows Hudson’s former police station shortly after police moved to their new headquarters in late 2017.
Photo/Dakota Antelman

Hudson – The conversation about building affordable housing at the site of Hudson’s old Packard St. police station got off to a rocky start back in 2018. 

Two years later, Selectman John Parent says the tone has changed. 

“It has gotten much better,” he explains. 

While nothing is yet entirely certain, Parent says the town is starting down the path to build a two-story affordable housing block now not in spite of resident protests, but in collaboration with those abutters. 

“We want to have the neighbors comfortable,” he says. “We want to answer as many questions as we can…We’re not trying to shove anything down anybody’s throat.”

Discussions about the future of the long dilapidated former school and police station have taken many forms. 

Town officials agree the structure needs to be demolished. But as recently as last year, debate still swirled as leaders considered selling the remaining property to a private developer, building a new school administration building on the site, or constructing affordable housing. 

A grant funded consultant report helped settle the debate, eventually pushing school committee members to rescind interest in moving their district’s headquarters to Packard Street.

“Once that occurred,” Parent said, “we thought, ‘OK it’s a go for using it for affordable housing.”

Having faced initial blowback in 2018 by residents worried about the impact of a large housing development on local schools, sewage systems and more, Parent says town officials convened a subcommittee of the Affordable Housing Trust. Known as the Packard St. Reuse Committee, that group gathered residents themselves to closely advise decisions on this project.

They did a great job,” Parent said of that group’s work. “They came up with some real good guidelines that we can now incorporate into the request for a proposal.” 

Anna McCabe chaired that committee and served as a liaison between town officials and neighborhood residents.

She agrees with Parent, saying she’s happy about the recent collaboration.

“It’s been a great way to definitely make sure that the neighbors voices are heard,” she said. 

Current plans call for a two-story development with between 35 and 40 units. The structure would not expand far beyond the existing footprint of the old police station and would utilize strategically placed shrubbery to give privacy to neighbors. 

More so, construction will ensure that Hudson avoids falling below the legal minimum number of affordable housing units within its borders after the results of this year’s census get announced. 

“When people see the word ‘affordable’, they make an assumption,” McCabe said, countering a notion that affordable housing developments are inherently problematic. “That’s really too bad.”

Next steps from here involve town meeting voters approving a transfer of ownership of the Packard Street property from Hudson itself, to the Affordable Housing Trust.

From there, Parent says the town will develop a request for proposals to circulate among local contractors and developers. Eventually, officials will turn back to town meeting for approval to fund this project via Community Preservation money already earmarked for affordable housing. 

Emphasizing that much remains uncertain even now, Parent said residents could expect a finished housing complex on Packard Street by the end of next year.


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