On Tuesday, the Select Board determined that they aren’t interested in preserving the gazebo on the Town’s old Main Street property. They are willing to give the public a chance to come up with a solution for saving it. But they put a 2 week deadline on getting that feedback.
(That doesn’t mean wrecking balls are scheduled for early June. But the Town would let the St. Mark’s School know that they are free to move ahead with plans for that when they wish.)
Previously, I shared news about the demolition of the old public safety buildings at 19-21 Main Street. At that time, I didn’t write about the gazebo at the front of the lot. St. Mark’s School had indicated that eventually would likely want it removed, but they would first give the Town a chance to relocate it.
The school hasn’t changed it’s tune. But they did reach out to learn what the Town’s plan is. Town Administrator Mark Purple updated the Select Board at their meeting this week.
Purple explained the financial and structural challenges relocating it would pose. He asked for guidance on how to proceed before soliciting suggestions from Town departments.
The TA summarized an assessment done at his request. Building Commissioner Casey Burlingame said the 37 year old gazebo is in decent condition. But he believed it would cost more to move the structure than to replicate it (which he estimated as around $40K.)
The board decided that investing in moving it didn’t make financial sense. There were multiple mentions of the difficult budget situation the Town is facing.
Members didn’t have any ideas for a good location or purpose for it. Member Al Hamilton referred to it as a “White Elephant” and not old enough to be historical. Members agreed that they had rarely seen the gazebo used and that it wasn’t large enough to really serve as a bandstand.
The board decided to allow the public to come up with an alternative to demolition but with a deadline of “two weeks”. Though, they didn’t specify the date (or how to respond), their next meeting is scheduled for June 6th. [Editor’s Note: An email this afternoon gives a June 9th deadline.]*
Ultimately, what to do with the structure is up to the private school. But if a private party is willing to take the gazebo, the board would put them in contact with the school.
The gazebo was funded by alumni of Peter’s High School. It was built in 1986 on the property where the Southborough public school used to stand. (The school was demolished many years prior to make way for a fire station after the regional high school was established. As readers may recall, the police station was the former school annex.)
Board members said they will want to have the commemorative plaque saved.
Cost factors for relocating the gazebo include its size (20 ft x 20 ft x18-19ft), the cost of reconstructing a new foundation (since the original is immovable), and the triggered ADA requirement to make it handicapped accessible. In addition, there would be future maintenance costs, including replacing the asphalt shingles in 1-3 years. (Click here for the memo with details.)
*Updated (5/25/23 2:55 pm): This afternoon, an email from an Executive Assistant on behalf of the Select Board was sent to Town department heads, board and committee members, and some community organizations (including this blog). It explained the situation and followed:
If you are interested in acquiring the gazebo, please reply to this email no later than June 9, 2023. Any interested parties will be connected with St. Mark’s School to help facilitate the transaction.
The email was from Melanie Otsuka at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Since she had asked for a reply to her message, you may want to use the subject: Gazebo on former Police/Fire Station property)
Why can’t St Marks utilize the gazebo right where it sits? It would be a perfect spot for the St. Marks students and Fay Students to sit and enjoy their snacks and refreshments from downtown. I see them always walking down to pickup goodies .