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Town Administrator Presents North Elementary School Property Plan at Public Hearing

The town may use the school property to build assisted living units, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci during the hearing Tuesday night at Stoneham Town Hall.

The town is planning to split up the North Elementary School property into three sections and possibly develop assisted living units on at least one parcel, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci during a public hearing Tuesday night at .

The North School property, located at 195 Collincote St., would be reused potentially for assisted living housing units. However, single-family homes don't appear to be an ideal option for the area from a valuation standpoint, according to Ragucci.

Bidders are "only going to offer peanuts for that property" if single-family homes are built on it, according to Ragucci, adding that he has an obligation to do what's in the best interest for the town. "The land is not valuable for single-family homes ... and (the) least profitable (housing option) for the parcel are single-family homes," he said.

Ragucci said the goal is to have the assisted living units designed with a "single-family residential feel."

"We'd like to carve out three buildable lots, leaving a 50-foot-wide driveway that leads to the larger parcel in back," Ragucci said.

By cutting out three buildable lots at the site, there would be 111,850 (2.57 acres) square feet of area remaining; 77,300 square feet (1.77 acres) for potential development; and a 20-foot buffer zone would be established, according to the schematic.

While firm dates have not been set, Ragucci provided a general timeline for when certain tasks needed to be completed, including:

  • Getting a consensus from abutters as to what they would like to see happen with the plan. A private session between the town and residents is expected to happen in January.
  • Drafting zoning changes, make adjustments after receiving input from the Planning Board and complete them by late January.
  • Work with request for proposals (RFPs) with suggested zoning and finish by Feb. 27, 2012. The RFPs would be advertised possibly in March or April, and the town hopes to get a successful bidder for the rear portion of the property first and bids for the remaining two parcels later.
  • Putting two warrant articles on the ballot for Town Meeting in May; one focusing on the sale of the property and the other the zoning change.

Several residents were in attendance for the hearing, with only a few who spoke about the proposal. One abutter said he supported single-family homes and not assisted living units as the town proposed.

No date has been set for future public sessions related to the plan.

Melisa Passanisi Thorne December 07, 2011 at 02:32 PM
End of an Era for North School. I went to North from K-5. I was sad when it was no longer in operation. But I think it would be heartbreaking to see the structure torn down.
Paulene Russo December 10, 2011 at 06:53 PM
It doesn't necessarily mean the "end of an era for North School". It had been used up until recently for educational purposes. There are many neighbors and townspeople currently working in tandem with town officials to try to develop an appropriate use for this site. At this point, it is critical for everyone to pass this information about this opportunity to any individuals, groups of investors or businesses that might have a vision for this 3-acre parcel - in whole or part. Here's a great chance to have some involvement in the future of our community. As alumni of the school, we share the sentiment of hoping that the building could be re-used in entirety or part. Let's all continue to promote the great potential of this future project.

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