DRACUT — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday unanimously ratified the town’s plan to allow the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) to develop the former Dracut Centre School/Town Hall Annex at 11 Spring Park Ave. into eight units of affordable housing for working veterans.
The vote was 4-0 (Selectmen Chairwoman Alison Hughes was absent Tuesday).
According to its website, CBA is a membership-based community development corporation dedicated to resident empowerment and sustainable community revitalization for current and future residents of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley. The town of Dracut on Jan. 31 awarded the CBA the opportunity to develop the former Dracut Centre School.
“I’m thrilled,” Town Manager Jim Duggan said after the meeting Tuesday. “I think it’s a great project for the community, to partner with CBA. I’ve seen an example of what they’ve done in Haverhill… and it’s impressive.”
Duggan said he’s looking forward to a partnership with CBA, veterans organizations, and with Greater Lowell Technical High School.
In a Nov. 16 letter to Duggan, CBA Executive Director Yun-Ju Choi detailed the organization’s past accomplishments, including the Haverhill Welcome Home Veterans Housing Project, CBA’s first real estate development initiative outside of Lowell.
“The location of the former Town Hall Annex, tucked into a residential neighborhood with nearby access to amenities such as the LRTA bus line, Market Basket and Hannaford, and the Moses Greeley Parker Memorial Library, make it an ideal location to house veterans and their families in need of quality affordable housing,” Choi’s letter read.
Choi on Tuesday night said she and her staff are very thrilled to work in the town of Dracut.
“Especially working to build veterans housing,” she told The Sun. “That’s also really important to us.”
Before the vote, Duggan told town officials that the Community Preservation Committee voted unanimously to approve $200,000 in CPA funds in order to maintain the exterior of the property and its historic character. He also said he’d like to work with Town Counsel James Hall on negotiating the conveyance of the property to CBA for the sale amount of one dollar.
Duggan recently told The Sun that there’s really been no desire by anyone to purchase the property because of the level of construction that needs to be done.
“There’s asbestos throughout inside the property that is significant and what I want to do is, I want to get it on the tax rolls,” Duggan said last week. “I didn’t want the building to sit there idle. It’s not fair to the town, it’s not fair to the neighbors because, if I’m going to be aggressive with dilapidated buildings throughout the community, I feel it’s only fair to take a hard look at properties the town doesn’t use.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.