One proposal received for Nichewaug property 

  • The 6.6-acre Nichewaug Inn and Academy Property sits right outside the Petersham Common. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/CARSON MCGRATH

Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2018 11:02:23 PM

PETERSHAM — The Selectboard received a proposal from a local group called the Petersham Cooperative Community Working Group last week to obtain and renovate the Nichewaug Inn and Academy property on the common.

Set in January by the board, the deadline for proposals was June 28 at 11 a.m. The group’s proposal was the sole proposal the Selectboard received.

Within the Petersham Cooperative Community Working Group’s proposal, plans to create senior housing, an assisted living facility, a farm-to-table restaurant and an outdoor landscaped environment are outlined. The group also wants to renovate the property to incorporate a permaculture demonstration farm or garden, a Guest Inn and community co-working space.

Amacher and Associates Architects, a Cambridge architecture firm with experience in green building design and renovation of historic buildings, designed the proposal with assistance from local Petersham residents and outside planners. When creating the proposal, the group said they took the history and character of Petersham into consideration at every step.

“The Nichewaug Inn and Academy property represents an incredible asset for the town of Petersham. Its original building is historic, the land surrounding it is an identified Heritage Landscape and the existing buildings contain enormous opportunity,” the group wrote in the proposal.

Stephanie Selden is one of two Petersham residents involved with the cooperative group. She said when creating the proposal, the group brainstormed ideas they felt were missing from downtown, such as a restaurant that serves dinner and can utilize local farm produce. In terms of housing, she also said the group wanted to create an option for elderly residents to stay in the area, rather than move somewhere else.

“In these little towns, there are not a lot of options,” she said.

One of the most important aspects of the proposal, she said, is to incorporate ideas that resonate with the town’s wants and needs to build support from Petersham.

Henry Woolsey, vice chairman of the Selectboard, said the Nichewaug Inn and Academy has been largely uninhabited since the 1980s and had several owners until the town acquired the property in 2007.

In 2015, the town sent out a request for proposals and received three parties that expressed interest in the property. About three years later, the town has yet to decide a plan for the property. Woolsey said the matter has been the subject of several special town meetings. At their next meeting, Tuesday, July 10, the Selectboard plans to discuss the property and the proposal they’ve received to determine the best steps moving forward.

In order for the proposal to pass, Woolsey said the town would need to organize another special town meeting and adopt an article by a two-thirds majority to approve the project.

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