Main Street building to face wrecking ball

  • This abandoned home at 1128 Main St., Athol is slated for demolition. Plans call for the parcel on which it sits to become a “pocket park” with a scenic view of the Millers River Valley. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 2/6/2020 10:05:22 PM
Modified: 2/6/2020 10:05:12 PM

ATHOL – Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said this week that Athol has received a state grant that will cover a large portion of the cost of demolishing a building at 1128 Main St. The money — $24,500 — comes from the Strategic Demolition Fund which is overseen by state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.

National Grid has also given the town a $2,500 grant to be applied toward the demolition.

The two grants combined, totaling $27,000, will cover half the estimated cost of $54,000 for the project, which also includes clearing the site post-demolition. Both grants were awarded following a competitive application process.

A contract for nearly $32,000, plus just over $3,000 per day, has been awarded to S&R Corporation of Lowell to complete the demolition, clearance of the site, and grading of the parcel.

Suhoski said the remaining funds will come from the town. The seed monies for a special town account were generated several years ago by a state grant for a rehabilitation project that targeted four or five town-owned properties and which was completed several years ago.

“Those funds,” said Suhoski, “when the receiver auctioned and sold them off and paid back the reconstruction costs, and the mortgages, and all of that, the properties went back to the private sector. The grant proceeds — any leftover proceeds – came back to the town. So, we went to town meeting and created a special revenue account for demolition, site clearance, and associated activities to clean up slum and blight. So, we do have funds we’re working from.”

The town took ownership of the 1128 Main St. property via the tax title process.

“It’s beyond rehab,” he said. “There was a fire inside. There’s a hole right through the living room floor to the basement below. The roof is caving in. It’s on a lot that is too undersized to allow for any kind of redevelopment. It would not be economically feasible.”

Suhoski said, however, plans call for the site to be dedicated to the betterment of the neighborhood and the community as a whole.

“There’s a pretty steep slope behind the building,” he explained. “It goes down into the Millers River valley. We’re going to grade it and create a scenic vista. I don’t want to overplay it, but it will be a little pocket park that pedestrians can access from the sidewalk. Maybe there will be a bench. We’ll clean it up and rid the town of that blight. It’ll be a better gateway to downtown. Again, the river valley is below and you’ll have seasonal views of that, which I think will be nice.”

The contract with S&R calls for work to begin within 90 days. Suhoski said the process of demolition will result in temporary traffic disruptions which, he assured, will be publicized in advance of work progressing.

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