Annual Town Meeting Voters to Decide Fate of Fire-damaged Historic House

63 Main St. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE lANZILLO

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A vote on the future of 63 Main St. will take place on March 28 at the Westford annual Town Meeting. The measure will determine if the historic house should be sold or turned into municipal space.

The attic and roof of 63 Main St. was burned in a 2016 fire. In 2018, the town purchased the property for $700K, including $100K in restoration fees. Among other repairs, a temporary roof was added. The town subsequently created the 63 Main Task Force, helmed by Select Board Chair Elizabeth M. Almeida, to determine the future of the building. More information on the history and current condition of the house is available here.

63 Main St. WESTFORDCAT PHOTO

“The community was amenable to having the property turned into a single-family home,” said Almeida. Other motions that were considered heavily include turning it into a school administration building and a cultural center.

The full survey also included options to turn it into an over-65 affordable housing, turning it into the new home for the Westford Historical Society, using it for Senior Center programming, a community art studio, an art gallery and community meeting space, a farmer’s market and arts & craft space, an education center, or a host to miscellaneous town departments.

The only option that had majority support was Article 34 — selling it as a single family residence, which will be the article presented to Town Meeting voters. The full results of the survey can be found here. However, this may not be the only path forward for the lot.

“Expansion of [the] Town Hall parking lot could be done in conjunction with one of these ideas or independently,” said Almeida. Town Hall is right next door and lacking parking, and the wide space behind the house is being considered for new parking.

If the motion to make the house a single-family home fails, then further options on what to do with the property will be explored for the next year, said Almeida. She also said the Board of Selectman is considering encouraging a “no” vote on the motion to allow for another year to consider all possible options for the project.

The survey included a field for participants to leave comments, which expressed similar interests to the survey results. However, there was a clear pattern of a lack of favorability with the purchase of the land at all.

“The Town of Westford should not have purchased this property and should not continue to put money in this property,” said one anonymous commenter. “The property should be sold with historic district restrictions.”

This result is compounded in the survey as well, with 52.9 percent of respondents saying they were “not willing” for the Town of Westford to assume financial burden of the building by potentially raising property taxes for funding.

The annual town meeting will begin at 10 am on Saturday, March 28 in the Abbot School gymnasium.

Troy LaFond is a sophomore at UMass Lowell and a WestfordCAT intern.