NEWBURYPORT — Cushing Park, the building at 57 Low St. and the former Enpro Services site at the corner of Route 1 and Carey Avenue are just a few of the locations being considered by a site selection committee in the search for a new home for Newburyport Youth Services.

Youth Services vacated its previous location in the former Brown School at 42 Milk St. at the end of October after an inspection determined the heating system could no longer be used.

Youth Services has been without a building for more than a month. Staff members are temporarily using an office on State Street, but will need a new office after Jan. 1, according to Director Andrea Egmont.

For now, recreation and enrichment programs are taking place in satellite locations around the city.

The most pressing need is to find an appropriate space for the youth center, which is the after-school and evening program for students in grades 6-12, as well as fourth- and fifth-graders on half days.

The city has been pursuing possible site options to establish a permanent home for Youth Services for many years. In the spring, the city formed a site selection committee and issued a community poll for people to share their suggestions for possible sites.

The NYS Facility Site Selection Committee consisted of Egmont; Andrew Port, the city’s planning director; Jennifer Galoski, a parent with a background in environmental issues; Chris Lee, a resident with public infrastructure finance expertise; Patricia Temple, a resident with a background in real estate development for educational institutions and nonprofits; and Michael Olson, a parent in the community.

The committee also worked with Greg Earls, conditional building commissioner; Jennifer Blanchet, zoning administrator and enforcement officer; and Julia Godtfredsen, conservation administrator.

The group reviewed about a dozen sites with Cushing Park on Kent Street, 57 Low St. — considered both with and without a conservation restriction — the former Enpro Services and Fulton Pit — a city-owned property being used as storage for Department of Public Services materials at the bottom of Fulton Street — scoring the highest.

Each site was scored based on its ability to provide space for current programming, its ability to allow for outdoor play spaces, parking options on and off the street, proximity to schools, as well as its proximity to parks and fields.

The committee recognized that any site selection would involve a large investment by the city, so having room for potential growth should be taken into account.

Sites were also reviewed for zoning and regulation concerns; the costs to purchase or lease the land, if needed; the flexibility of the space to allow for a unique design; available utilities; environmental impacts; possible remediation requirements; positive and negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood; and the accessibility of the location in terms of serving all residents, including those who walk, bike or take public transportation.

The process only looked at criteria and did not account for other issues such as local politics or legislation.

The former Brown School, which Youth Services “temporarily” moved into more than six years ago, and the area between the Senior Community Center and Bresnahan Elementary School were also considered.

The former Brown School came in fifth after the top four sites. The main concerns about the Milk Street site were high costs associated with renovations and needed asbestos abatement, the location not being central in terms of schools, parks and fields, and limitations in terms of potential future growth of Youth Services.

The area between the Senior Community Center and Bresnahan Elementary was ranked sixth with space as the main challenge.

The site would only offer approximately 0.7 acres of land; the elementary school uses the space for its own programs; dedicated parking for Youth Services would be limited; and housing Youth Services there would likely contribute to traffic congestion along High Street.

Seven sites — Colby Farm Lane, Pioneer Field, Fuller Field, several areas within the Nock Middle and Molin Upper Elementary School campus on Low Street, Cooper Field, the Mersen Building on Merrimac Street and the former Kmart space in Port Plaza — were ruled out primarily because they would not meet the minimum space requirement of about 15,000 square feet for Youth Services programming.

The committee was unable to consider the Mersen Building because of a lack of information available about the space. The former Kmart site was ruled out after the mayor spoke with its owner and determined that deed restrictions would not allow for this use.

In February, the City Council voted 6-5 against purchasing 57 Low St. — a Massachusetts National Guard property that had been considered for housing several city departments but was initially pursued by Mayor Donna Holaday as a future home for Youth Services.

Since this vote took place, the city conducted soil borings and air quality tests at the site to address concerns previously raised by city councilors.

The City Council now has one more chance to vote on whether to purchase this property, as the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance has given the city until Jan. 31 to close on the site.

Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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