Bid to add parking for Arts Community wins OK
Measure will create additional space at Fitchburg’s Lowe Park
The state House of Representatives approved a bill last week that would allow for improvements and additional parking at Lowe Park and the upcoming Fitchburg Arts Community project.
In a roll call vote on Thursday, the House unanimously authorized an easement for parking and improvements at both the park and the former B.F. Brown Middle School building, which will be converted into artist-preference housing by NewVue Communities.
NewVue Communities Executive Director Marc Dohan said the housing project requires a piece of land at Lowe Park for additional parking.
The bill would grant an easement of 0.43 acres at 0 Elm St. for that reason.
Dohan said the bill took a big step forward by passing the House and now heads to the Senate for enactment. If it passes, Gov. Charlie Baker would then have to sign it into law.
“We are hoping that it will pass the Senate shortly,” he said.
Lowe Park, which is owned by the city, is a 4-acre property adjacent to the former B.F. Brown Middle School and the Fitchburg Art Museum. Currently, there is off-street parking available on the school side of the site.
The easement would shift the baseball field slightly and relocate its foul pole.
Dohan said the plan is to create a new dedicated lot for the park and to conduct a major renovation of the property.
Though plans have not been finalized, there have been talks about conducting a $150,000 overhaul of the park.
The primary focus of the bill is to make room for a parking lot at the Fitchburg Arts Community
project. It will include a total of 93 parking spaces, with 16 spaces dedicated to the park.
The proposed parking plan would also shift the existing baseball field at Lowe Park and relocate its foul pole.
A complex of affordable housing and studio spaces for local artists, the Fitchburg Arts Community project will focus on three former municipal buildings: the Fitchburg Academy, City Stable, and B.F. Brown Middle School.
This is a 62-unit project with a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, and about 70% of those will be designated affordable, said Dohan.
Apartments will be available to people in the creative industries, as defined by the state, which includes designers, painters, photographers, musicians and more.
The bill also states that the city will dedicate 2.28 acres of land for conservation purposes at 0 Battles Ave. and 0 Adin St.
The Fitchburg Arts Community housing project is converting the former B.F. Brown Middle School into apartments.