After years of research and deliberation, an answer was finally announced on what should go into the former Westford Anodizing Plant, better known as 12 North Main St.
On Tuesday, 12 North Main St. Task Force Chairwoman Jane Hughes told the Board of Selectmen that her committee recommends a mixed use proposal for the now dilapidated mill complex that was transferred to the Selectmen’s possession in 2015.
In a report to the Selectmen, Hughes reported that the mixed-use scenario will help make the property once again become a source of tax revenue for the town. Fellow Task Force Member Nancy Cook added that from the task force’s research, the building could become popular location for startup companies after rehabilitation efforts conclude.
The Selectmen unanimously approved a contract of $109,000 with American Environmental Inc. for asbestos abatement and selective demolition on the site, but requested additional information on concepts for the mixed use proposal before approving a finalized request for proposals, or RFP.
Hughes, who vice chairwoman of the Task Force prior to the departure of Assistant Town Manager John Mangiaratti, told the board that she could return with another multi-page report providing more in-depth details.
Despite the recommendation, the Selectmen still could approve one of the other four options researched by the Task Force (transforming the property into a park, residential units, light industrial use or commercial/office/retail) for the RFP as well as approving a hybrid that includes separate portions of the options.
According to Town Manager Jodi Ross, state funding earmarked for the property has not yet been released by Governor Baker, with town funds being used so far with the expectation that the grant funds will be released in compensation.
Hughes also weighed in on the agenda item just before the 12 North Main St. recommendation: a proposal to fill a portion of the quarry on North Main Street that has been in operation for over 150 years.
Geologist Felix A. Perriello, speaking for American Environmental Inc., provided a presentation to the board on the proposal, which would add approximately 5 million cubic yards of imported material to the site. That material, which would be transported from other construction sites in Massachusetts and would need to follow Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) guidelines, would be placed near steep walls on the site where stone has already been extracted.
Hughes, a resident of North Main Street and abutter to the quarry, told the board that the truck traffic bringing the material onto the site over the next five to 10 years would make it almost impossible to sell her home if she chose to do so.
The Selectmen also voiced concerns with the truck traffic, expected at approximately 250 truck trips per day, in addition to the approximately 250 truck trips on Groton Road to Newport Materials. Several members of the board expressed grave concerns over the trucks’ weight impact on the road as well as safety concerns for nearby residents.
Selectman Andrea Peraner-Sweet also expressed concerns with the potential of foreign materials such as glass within the imported materials. In response, Perriello told the board that projects such as these are held to strict MassDEP standards as well as unwritten ethical guidelines that can cause professional harm if broken.
Ultimately, the board concluded that additional deliberation was needed before any decisions could be made, continuing the issue to a later date.