NEWBURYPORT — The state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance has put a $222,000 price tag on a National Guard maintenance building at 57 Low St. that the mayor hopes could be turned into a permanent home for Newburyport Youth Services.
Mayor Donna Holaday told the City Council at its meeting Monday that the state recently completed its review of the appraisal for the building and 2.17 acres of surrounding land and is now offering it to the city at a price more affordable than expected.
“I’m very happy with the price,” Holaday said Tuesday. “I had hoped that it would come in under ($300,000) so we’re very pleased.”
Holaday and other city officials have eyed the property as a potential new home for Youth Services, which now occupies the ground floor of the former G.W. Brown School in the South End.
Youth Services Director Andrea Egmont has expressed hope in relocating the department because of the Brown School’s constraints, while others, including council President Jared Eigerman, have warned of the high cost and difficulty of converting the Low Street property for use by NYS.
On Monday, Holaday said the city is finalizing a licensing agreement with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to allow access to the site for an environmental conditions assessment. She also said the city has already received eight proposals for the next phase of the Youth Services feasibility study and hopes to award the contract this month.
With the new, lower-than-expected price for the property, Holaday said she hopes the city will agree to purchase the site.
“I anticipate that we’ll be moving forward. It’s too good of a price to pass up,” she said.
In another part of her report to the council, Holaday noted that more PCB-contaminated soil will be soon excavated from a corridor of the Clipper City Rail Trail behind the wastewater treatment plant.
That stretch is unfinished and fenced off because of the PCBs found in soil during work on the rail trial. PCBs are an organic chlorine compound that were once widely deployed as dielectric and coolant fluids in electrical apparatus, but were banned because of human health concerns.
She said the soil to be removed is about half the amount originally excavated and that the work would only take a few days. Post-excavation sampling could also indicate if even more excavation will be needed later this month.
Holaday said an engineer from Hi-Way Safety System’s insurance company held an on-site meeting with the city’s Department of Public Services last week, marking an important step in the company’s review of the city’s claim for damages for High Street as a result of a botched line-painting job last summer.
In other business, the City Council approved an $11,000 transfer from the city’s legal settlements to pay for the replacement and repair of fences bordering the Brown School property. The council voted unanimously to approve the transfer.
Councilor at large Charlie Tontar noted that the money came from a settlement involving a development on Lime Street and that the transfer would allow the money to be used to improve the neighborhood.
“The Lime Street development was an insult to the neighborhood and this gives something back,” Tontar said.
The first section of the fence is made of 6-foot-high cedar panels while the second section consists of 8-foot-high cedar panels, according to the transfer.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.