Bid to add park­ing for Arts Com­mu­nity wins OK

Mea­sure will cre­ate ad­di­tional space at Fitch­burg’s Lowe Park

Sentinel & Enterprise - - FRONT PAGE - Ly Daniel mon­a­han dmon­a­han@sen­tinelanden­ter­prise.com

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.

DANIEL MON­A­HAN / SEN­TINEL & EN­TER­PRISE

The Fitch­burg Arts Com­mu­nity hous­ing project is con­vert­ing the for­mer B.F. Brown Mid­dle School into apart­ments.

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