Article requests $1.7M in CPA funds to purchase Whitney St. parcel


Article requests $1.7M in CPA funds to purchase Whitney St. parcel
This map shows 432 Whitney Street outlined in pink. The town is considering exercising its right of first refusal for to purchase the property. (Photo/Town of Northborough)

NORTHBOROUGH – The town is proposing to use funds from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) to purchase land at 432 Whitney St.

Earlier this year, the Select Board expressed an interest in having the town exercise its right of first refusal to purchase the property. It is owned by Santo Anza, who was convicted in 2013 on charges that he was operating an illegal solid waste dump at nearby 429 Whitney St.

The site is 23.77 acres of undeveloped land and was proposed to be sold to Howland Development Corporation for $1.7 million.

During the Select Board’s March 25 meeting, Community Preservation Committee (CPC) Chair John Campbell presented a proposal to use $1.7 million in CPA funds to purchase the property, which will be on the warrant for the April 22 Town Meeting.

The article calls for $817,653 from the unreserved fund, $664,073 from the conservation fund and $218,274 from new revenue. According to Campbell, after making this recommendation, the committee learned that the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) would be willing to give the town $200,000 toward the conservation of the property. He said the department was also willing to hold the conservation restriction on the parcel for no fee.

The site bordered existing DCR land.

“We’re quite happy about the opportunity to acquire the land with all of our CPA reserves, no additional town revenue needed, no additional bonding, no additional borrowing,” said Campbell.

If the property is purchased at Town Meeting, Northborough leaders have discussed using it for open space and recreation along with a small affordable housing development of between four to eight units.

Other CPC articles

There will be a total of seven CPC articles on the warrant.

One of the projects would soundproof the new pickleball courts at Ellsworth McAfee Park. The Town Meeting article requests an appropriation of $54,000. Another requests $4,729 to purchase and install a historic marker for the Aqueduct Bridge that was reported stolen last fall.

Town Meeting will also vote on appropriating $210,000 to First Parish Northborough Unitarian-Universalist Church to restore the steeple. Campbell said the church will be pursuing grant opportunities and the congregation would be putting in some funds, as well.

“This is, we think, a very good value for the town. First Parish is regarded as one of our most recognizable historic assets, and it’s much more than a church. It’s a community center. It’s used for a variety of uses all year long, and I think a real asset to the community,” he said.

The warrant will be posted here.

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