Voters to have say on cost of razing building
HANSON — Voters at the October special Town Meeting will be asked to decide how to fund the abatement and demolition of the old Plymouth County Hospital site, which must be done before the site can be used for other purposes.
“The first thing you have to do is clean up the lot,” said Selectman Don Howard, who made the motion for placement of an article on the Town Meeting warrant.
A placeholder article was approved by a 5-0 vote.
Interim Town Administrator Richard LaCamera will be asked to oversee the engineering estimate and request for proposal and bid process, which would hinge on the outcome of a Town Meeting vote. The article would also require a ballot question.
Selectman Bill Scott raised the issue again at the board’s Tuesday, Aug. 4 meeting after recently discussing potential costs of a PCH demolition with the company hired by Lite Control to raze buildings not being donated to the town at the company’s former Hawks Avenue site.
“They expressed an interest, if we did decide to move forward on a demolition up there,” Scott said. “They would certainly like to bid on it.”
The Costello Company also looks for developers to work on sites following demolition “and work on cleanup and other issues,” Scott said.
Community Preservation Commission Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett lauded the company’s work at the Lite Control site, but cautioned that if they were used as consultants on a cost estimate they would not be permitted to bid on a demolition contract.
A previous study on the demolition cost at PCH came up with the $1.5 million figure only a few years ago.
“I’m wondering if we might not be able to brush off whoever it was who did that and go back and say, ‘Could you give us a refresh on the estimate that you did?’” she said. “It could be easier for somebody familiar with the property, that’s already done the analysis, to come in.”
Howard has advocated placing the issue on the ballot, proposing that — since the debt on Town Hall renovations is being retired — another 20-year bond could pay to raze the hospital and clean up the site.
“I think it should be voted for by the people,” he said. “I’d just like to see an article put before the Town Meeting to clean up the mess.”
The town owns the PCH property, which has been vacant since 1999.
“Everyone has a bunch of ideas as to what they might like to see at the Plymouth County Hospital, and I think we all agree we’d like to see something done up there,” Scott said. “Seems like every time we bring up the hospital all we get is a history lesson.”
Scott said he was not a fan of investing taxpayer dollars without getting some type of revenue from the site in the future, but admitted he doesn’t have the answer.
“We have a myriad of good ideas,” said Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young. “We just haven’t put those good ideas in the form of either articles or [questions on] the town-wide ballot and let the people pick the direction they would like to go in.”
Among those ideas are a park or a mixed use of some form of over-55 housing adjacent to a park and even selling lots to a developer for single-family houses.