NEWBURYPORT — City officials expressed support Wednesday for the sale of a seldom-used National Guard garage building to the city for “general municipal uses.”
Over the past year, Mayor Donna Holaday and other officials have looked at the building at 57 Low St. as a possible permanent home for Newburyport Youth Services, which occupies the first floor of the otherwise vacant former Brown School in the South End. The Low Street property consists of 2.1 acres and 5,720 square feet of building space in a one-story brick structure.
The property has been declared surplus by the National Guard and will be turned over to the city for a price yet to be determined.
Warren Madden, project manager for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, said during a brief public hearing Wednesday that an appraisal of the property is in the works and should be completed soon.
Madden asked local officials if they had any proposed use restrictions for the building.
None of the several city officials at the hearing called for any restrictions on the building’s use.
Rather, Mayor Donna Holaday, City Council President Jared Eigerman, Ward 1 Councilor Sharif Zeid and Planning Director Andy Port each gave their support to the building’s use for general municipal purposes, with some adding that it could potentially include uses other than housing Youth Services.
“I would recommend it for general use as well because even though we’re looking at it for Youth Services, we could use the flexibility to look at other uses down the road,” Port said.
Eigerman, who has cited potential difficulty and high costs in relocating Youth Services to the Low Street building, raised concerns about a recent wetlands delineation that revealed a significant portion of the property is made up of wetlands. State and local laws prohibit development within 25 feet of wetlands.
“I think it needs to be analyzed,” Eigerman said. “There are unintended consequences when you fill a wetland, and there are more needs for us to address that we haven’t funded to fix.”
Eigerman previously estimated the cost to relocate Youth Services to Low Street at $4.75 million, which doesn’t include the expense of building a gymnasium and playground, or relocating Emergency Services, which is in the brick building.
For further reading on the site at 57 Low St., visit https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/wetlands-found-on-proposed-newburyport-youth-services-site/article_6a3d0290-ec3b-529d-aa3a-9f78a73d996e.html.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.