By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
The Winthrop Town Council voted 7-2 on Tuesday night to work with New Hampshire-based developer Equivise on a plan to demolish the old Dalrymple School and construct a new 30-plus unit condominium development on the property, which could potentially brings hundreds of thousands of extra tax dollars to the town.
The 7-2 vote officially designated Equivise as the “preferred developer” of the property and could clear the way for sale and development of the property, if the company can reach agreement, through the special permit granting process, on what a new building there should look like and how it can best fit in with the neighborhood.
Despite, the fairly wide margin in the voting, it was clear right away, that the decision was not an easy one for any of the councilors.
Precinct Four Councilor Jeanne Maggio, whose precinct borders the Dalrymple School and Precinct Six Councilor Linda calla, were the only two councilors who voted against designating Equivise, essentially telling their colleagues that they favored the a competing bid by the East Boston Community Development Company (EBCDC), that had proposed maintaining the existing Dalrymple building and renovating the building into 27- apartment units for low and moderate income seniors.
Maggio, who delivered an impassioned plea to her colleagues to choose the EBCDC bid, pointed to other high-end condominium projects that are expected to come on line or be developed in Winthrop over the next few years, including the Atlantis Marina project and potential projects at the Crystal Cove Marina and the Winthrop Hospital, as sufficient to meet the high-end condo needs of the community. At the same time she outlined the need for expanded elderly housing in the community, pointing to a six-month wait list for apartments in Winthrop Housing.
Similarly, Calla pointed to the need for the council to “take care of all of our residents,” in planning for the future, when she voted.
However, the majority of the council pointed to the financial realties of selling the Dalrymple and the current fiscal constraints facing the town.
“In my head, I wish I could go with the EBCDC proposal,” said Precinct 3 Councilor Nick DelVento. “But we have to remember back to when we asked the community to approve overrides to pay for two new schools and part of that deal was that the town would put that property out to be developed.”
Citing both the opportunity for additional tax revenue to be earned with the development of condos and the higher sale price offered in the Equivise proposal, At-large Councilor Joseph Ferrino added, “I know that money is not always the most important issue, but at this point it is an issue.”
Following the meeting, Councilor Calla said that her vote was influenced by her constituents ion Precinct 6.
“As the elected Councilor from Precinct 6, I have listened to the residents in my precinct and have voiced their sincere desire to see the Dalrymple School preserved and remain (intact),” said Calla. “The vote I cast tonight for the EBCDC was on their behalf.”