Tonight’s meeting, held at Tewksbury Police station, was focused on finalizing the recommendations and presentation that the North St. & Trahan Reuse Committee will present to the Select Board and School Committee in a few weeks. Members Mark Kratman and Bob Fowler, who represent the Select Board and Planning Board, respectively, were not present.
The Committee’s short-term recommendations are to retain ownership of both properties once students move to the new Center Elementary School in January and that the town tear down the buildings as quickly as possible so they do not sit vacant too long.
Long term, the Committee has multiple recommendations for each site, based on feedback from residents and town officials and staff.
For the North St. property, any use may be temporary because it’s possible the town will want to use the site in the future if another school needs to be replaced.
Potential uses the Committee will recommend all involve open space. One suggestion is to create a boardwalk to connect the property to the Frasca Soccer Complex parking lot. The land could be partially used as a park, with inclusive play structures. A dog park was a popular option among residents, but the committee noted that if the property was ever used for a school again, a dog park would not be compatible.
Another recommendation is an outdoor function space. And while the committee has no plan to make a specific recommendation of what that would look like, members in attendance did discuss the potential for a pavilion with picnic tables like the one at Livingston St. Park. One final idea is to build pickleball courts since the sport continues to grow in popularity.
For the Trahan property the recommendations will be similar, primarily focusing on open space. There was great interest in a park to service South Tewksbury. A large concern from Trahan abutters was making sure there is no increase in traffic in that area, and the committee kept that in mind while finalizing its recommendations.
Pickleball courts and a dog park are also popular options for this property, in addition to a basketball court. But they will also recommend a spray park and splash pad.
The committee does not plan to make any housing recommendations but recognizes that there may be a desire to build some affordable units at the Trahan property, especially if the town falls below the 10 percent affordable threshold once the official 2020 census results are reported.
Reuse Committee members will present their recommendations to the Select Board and School Committee on December 6. The Select Board will then take this information and make its own recommendation to the town. Ultimately, the decision will be up to voters at May Town Meeting, because no option comes without a cost to taxpayers.
The Reuse Committee’s next meeting is December 1.