-By Cary Shuman
The Winthrop Town Council approved a revised agreement for the sale of the A.W. Dalrymple School property for $1.3 million to the East Boston Community Development Corporation (EBCDC) at a special council meeting Tuesday night.
EBCDC and town officials are expected to finalize the sale of the former elementary school building located in the Highland sections of the town on June 2. According to Council President Jeffrey Turco, the funds will go in to the town’s Sale of Land Account. The money can be used only for capital expenditures such as street and sidewalk projects and repairs of buildings.
In 2009 the Council selected EBCDC to redevelop the Dalrymple School property. The original deal called for the EBCDC to pay the town $1.3 million and “additional considerations (estimated at $200,000-$300,000) for the developer’s fee and infrastructure improvements relating to water and sewer.”
But by a 7-2 vote, the Council agreed to an agreement without the additional considerations. Turco and Council Vice President James Letterie voted against the measure.
“Frankly though I disagreed with it and voted no, I understand the interest of the Council in moving forward on this project,” said Turco. “I’m looking forward to seeing some work done on the property in the near future.”
Letterie was disappointed in the decision to revise the original agreement.
“A lot of people bought houses two years ago – and if everybody who bought a house two years ago and said to the bank, ‘the economy really stinks right now, can I have 15 percent back because I really overpaid for that property’– it doesn’t work. The bottom line is the town isn’t responsible for a developer promising too much for a piece of property. We’re responsible to get the best price we can for the taxpayers.”
Al Calderelli, executive director of the EBCDC, said he was “excited” about the Council’s decision to sell the property to his non-profit organization. The agency plans to renovate the building and install 27 units of affordable senior housing.
“I think it’s just fabulous to see it move forward,” said Caldarelli. “We’re just very enthusiastic about the whole project.”
Caldarelli said the reason for the delay in the project getting underway was that “when HUD came to the site, they found too much pollution and wouldn’t accept the site.”
“So over the past year what we have done for the town is remove the oil tanks that were buried on the site, which was the major obstacle,” said Caldarelli. “We also removed some materials that were inside the building.”
Caldarelli said the agency now has an environmental study that gives the site “a 100 percent clean bill of health.”
Caldarelli said the EBCDC expects to begin accepting applications from senior citizens for housing in the fall. The projected completion date for the project is early 2013.