The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize a study of the Department of Public Works site on Lewis Street that would look at options for repurposing the site as part of a potential South Lincoln rezoning effort.
Before the vote, several residents spoke against the study, fearing that the DPW will eventually be relocated to the transfer station site off Route 2A in North Lincoln.
Objections to the proposal by the South Lincoln Planning and Implementation Committee (SLPIC) first arose publicly over the summer. Residents expressed concern about the cost or cleaning up the DPW site, which is used for trucks, road equipment and school buses, as well as the environmental sensitivity of the transfer station site.
Gary Taylor, a member of SLPIC and the Planning Board, asked selectmen to authorize $9,800 to hire civil engineering firm Weston & Sampson to assess the DPW’s functions and needs as well as potential site consolidation (e.g., leaving the DPW on Lewis Street but shrinking its footprint to repurpose some of the land), opportunities for relocating some or all of its functions to another location, and the potential for combining resources for some DPW functions with neighboring towns or MassPort.
Lincoln’s 2010 master plan reiterates a 1999 recommendation to consider redeveloping the DPW site to support housing and commerce, and to “see if it makes sense to include the DPW site in efforts to rezone, revitalize and redevelop in South Lincoln,” Taylor said. The 2014 South Lincoln study also “identified an opportunity to create additional transportation-oriented housing by redeveloping the existing light industrial properties and relocating DPW garage,” he added.
“I think this is a very necessary due diligence as part of any thoughtful planning. I think you have to take a look at this four-acre parcel and see what all the options are,” said Selectman James Craig.
Oakdale Lane resident Keith Hylton repeated the concerns he voiced to the board in July about possible well water contamination from vehicles at the transfer station site and its proximity to the Minute Man National Historical Park (MMNHP). Weston recently built a new DPW faculty that cost $15 million, he said.
“Whatever site you look at, there’s got to be procedures for meaningful involvement by stakeholders early on,” Hylton added.
Some residents wondered why the amount requested was just under the $10,000 threshold that requires the town to solicit competitive bids. Meanwhile, others including MMNHP Resources Program Manager Margie Coffin Brown speculated that $9,800 might not be enough to do a thorough study of the DPW and alternative sites.
The study “really is all about whether or not the land could be put to better use and whether or not it’s feasible to relocate it or consolidate,” Taylor said. Any future rezoning proposal would come only after “a lot of further study” on costs and impacts, and would not occur for at least five to seven years, since the town faces major school and community center projects in the near future, he added.