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Ambulance building proposed for affordable housing units.

Byline: Lynne Klaft

LANCASTER -- The ambulance building at 800 Main St. was the focus of discussion at Monday night's selectmen's meeting.

Kevin Flynn, of the Montachusett Enterprise Commission (MEC), a non-profit branch of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, wanted the board's view on the renovation of the building for use as affordable housing units.

The building is now home to Council on Aging van and other equipment, but no longer houses the ambulance. The ambulance is now kept at the Central Fire Station, at 1055 Main St.

"Several years ago we knew the building would be too costly in the long run to maintain it as a work space,'' said Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco. Two requests for proposals were submitted to the public with no applications received. The building is zoned residential and the town installed a sewer connection.

Planning Director Noreen Piazza noted that the town is working to create an affordable housing plan and all town-owned land and buildings are being examined.

"The ambulance building was a natural. I spoke to Kevin and we did a site visit,'' Piazza said.

"Paul Lieneck, an architect, came with us to tour 800 Main Street. The building is a lot larger than it looks. There is 3,400 square feet inside. We decided it was a good candidate and looks to be an interesting project,'' Flynn said.

Selectmen Chairman Jean Syria said that she would want at least one of the three units that MEC thought possible, to be wheelchair accessible.

MEC takes on projects and works with town officials, organizations, neighborhoods and families to create affordable housing. It also partners with federal and state agencies, Monty Tech, other non-profits, private lenders and developers.

"I came here tonight to see if there was any interest and would be happy to pursue this further,'' Flynn said. MEC is interested in acquiring the site as a new project, he added.

Selectman Susan Smiley asked that Flynn also tour the Memorial School building to see if that would also fit into the organization's project list.

Selectmen requested more information from Flynn's organization about the proposed project.

Two neighbors of the building came to the meeting to air their concerns about the affordable housing plan, citing lack of parking, unclear lot lines, and the historical architectural features of the building.

Route 117 control

Selectmen received a communication from the Public Works Superintendent Chris Czermak regarding the state's Department of Transportation proposed taking over of Route 117 in Lancaster from the Bolton line to the Leominster border.

The public works board decided it would be beneficial for Lancaster if the state took full control of the roadway. Funds lost through Chapter 90 road improvement money from the state would be minimal and the cost savings realized from the state taking control of plowing and maintenance far outweigh that loss, according to Czermak's letter.

Selectmen voted unanimously to support the public works board's decision.
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Title Annotation:Coulter
Author:Klaft, Lynne
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 6, 2013
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