By Sue Ellen Woodcock
The Economic Development Citizens Advisory Committee (EDCAC)has voted to advise the Town Council to go ahead and tear down the old middle school on Pauline Street and move forward with a proposal to redevelop the site.
A few weeks ago an unofficial citizens group presented the Town Council with a plan to develop a community center and ice rink on the spot where the old middle school stands.
Olympic hockey great Mike Eruzione and Joe Aiello gave the presentation to the Town Council a couple weeks ago to introduce the idea.
Eruzione said the plan would be to take down the old school and the Larsen Rink, build a community center, a new rink and four-story housing and retail space on the Walden Street side. There would also be townhouse type housing on the Waldemar Street side of the property.
EDCAC co-chair Robert Carroll said the plan for the Eruzione Community Center is not his committee’s plan, even though they are supporting it. The committee has been focused on the revitalization of the Center Business District and the Master Plan for the area. The fifth option in the plan is similar to the Eruzione Community Center proposal.
The zoning for the old school would also have to be changed so the area is included with the Center Business District.
Lisa Alberghini who has worked on the Economic Development Citizens Advisory Committee said this plan unlocks the work of the master plan for the Center Business District, economic development and the Transportation Committee.
“This proposal is a lot like option 5 of the master plan,” said Alberghini. “This is for residents of all ages.”
She added that the taxpayers have been sinking money into an old and aging rink. A report from 1995 stated the rink is beyond repair, yet still used.
“This is not about the rink it’s about the community center,” Alberghini said.
The other plus would be the possibility of 69-80 units of condos and town homes. There would also be retail space under the living areas.
And how would this $19 million development be paid for? Aiello explained that a $5 million demolition and site package could be obtained through a state MassWorks grant. The land value for housing is $2 million. Private fundraising could raise $3 million. Another three million would come from a town sourced 5-year capital plan. Another $3 million would come from the state. Potentially $5 million from public entities like MassPort and the MWRA. There is no total cost for the project yet.
“The tax revenue will have a ripple effect on the center,” said committee member Mike Lucerto.