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School Reuse Committee Approves Community Survey for Release In September

At its meeting last night, the North & Trahan School Reuse Committee met with its three newly appointed members, John Deputat, George Ferdinand and Jeff Elwell. Chair Bruce Shick was absent.

This committee is tasked with evaluating options for the North St. and Trahan schools and presenting a recommendation to the Select Board, in preparation for the School Committee formally turning the properties over to the town in early 2023 when students move to the new Center Elementary School.

The Committee first opened the floor to resident comments.

“There are many of us in the neighborhood at the Trahan school who would like to keep that as a playground, maybe a tennis court, basketball court, instead of building any more houses, or any more condos,” said Patricia Meuse, who lives in the Trahan neighborhood. Meuse was joined by neighbor Kathleen Kimble, who agreed that area residents are not in favor of development on the site.

At the last meeting, the Committee authorized member Mark Kratman to reach out to the East Boston Community Development Corp. to request that the company address the Committee on possible reuse of the Trahan building for affordable housing.

Kratman sits on the board of the EBCDC.

He reported that the company’s executive team is reviewing information on the property and will likely attend a meeting in September.

Update 8/23: Kratman said his charge from the Reuse Committee was to ask the EBCDC to look at both properties, not just the Trahan.

“Each has their own challenges,” he said. “We should keep an open mind to any reuse.”

Acting chair Kristen Smith reported that drone footage of the school buildings is being collected and will be shared with the community when fully compiled. Elwell offered to do a 3D laser scan of the schools. Kayla Biagioni-Smith, who represents the School Committee, said that should be possible, with approval by the TPS superintendent.

The Committee is also waiting on an estimate from Consigli on demolition costs.

See what happened at the Aug. 4 reuse meeting and learn about assessed values.

Town planner Alexandra Lowder joined the Committee to review the survey that will be launched in September, to gather resident preferences on use of the properties.

Kratman suggested adding language indicating that portions of the buildings could be reused, should they be redeveloped for housing.

“Somebody may be interested in using the existing frame to get affordable historic tax credits,” he said.

With a few additional edits, the Committee signed off unanimously on the survey, which will include a section for members of elected and appointed boards and committees to weigh in on potential uses relevant to their groups.

Biagioni-Smith suggested that a volunteer might bring a laptop to the Senior Center and assist residents in making their responses. The Committee asked Lowder to get the link out to the community on Sept. 12. The Carnation will publish the link, and residents may also find it on the town’s website.

The committee will meet next on Sept. 8 and Sept. 15. Smith noted that residents, including abutters, are welcome to address the Committee at a regular meeting.

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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