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Joyce Endee

Wakefield selectmen support article for food pantry building

SITE PLAN for the proposed Wakefield Food Pantry building on a town lot next to the highway department. (Courtesy of LandTech) (click for larger version)
December 22, 2011
WAKEFIELD — At their Dec. 14 meeting Wakefield selectmen gave their approval of a warrant article that would give the Wakefield Food Pantry a lease on town land and allow the pantry to build a new building there at its own expense.

Food Pantry Building Committee Chair Dave Schweitzer and President Janet Miller had met with selectmen twice, on Oct. 26 and Nov. 9, to discuss possible locations on town land where they could build a new building to house the pantry. The new building would be paid for with private donations and would allow the pantry to move out of the former police station building on Meadow Street it shares with the Wakefield Parks and Recreation Department.

Schweitzer and Miller had originally looked at a section of the transfer station site off Rines Road, but at the suggestion of Selectman Chair Ken Paul investigated another town site on Route 153 next to the town highway department.

On Dec. 14 they came back with a survey of the highway department site done by Bryan Berlind of LandTech with a "placeholder" building drawn in, and showing all the setbacks required by town zoning. Schweitzer also reported that the pantry had talked the previous week with Morton Buildings about a 42 by 48 foot steel building that would suit their needs.

Looking over the proposed warrant article, which calls for the town to lease the site to the food pantry for 99 years, Selectman Peter Kasprzyk asked, "Why $1 a year? Why not a flat payment?" Town Administrator Teresa Williams noted that the lease with Parish Helpers was for $1 for 10 years.

Schweitzer agreed $1 for 99 years would work for the pantry. He also thanked Selectman Mark Duffy for considering a smaller site: "We now see that an acre is OK and that three acres are not needed," he said.

Chairman Paul observed that there was room for a smaller community garden on the proposed site, though it doesn't have to be located next to the building. He said he was concerned who would own the building if the food pantry dissolves at some point. "Otherwise it's a good plan on a good location."

Williams noted that the highway department doesn't use the water from its well for drinking and the state highway garage has better water but with a bad smell.

Schweitzer said the pantry would drill its own well. As for the septic system, he said he met with Danny Davis and Nate Fogg about digging test puts for the leach field.

Kasprzyk asked what the plans were for removing trees along the road. Schweitzer said Fogg recommended removing mature pine trees to avoid possible building damage from tree falls. Revenue from selling the trees would go to the town, and the cost of all site improvements and the building itself would be paid for through donations, with no cost to the town.

Selectmen voted 3-0 to support a warrant article allowing the food pantry to lease the property.

The final draft of the warrant article, drafted by Attorney Rick Sager, reads: "To see if the Town will vote to lease to the Wakefield Food Pantry at one dollar ($1.00) for 99 years, up to one (1) acre, portion of land owned by the Town (Wakefield Tax Map 200 Lot 3 consisting of 56 acres, more or less, located on Route 153 and next to the Wakefield Highway Department property) for the following purpose: To allow the Wakefield Food Pantry to construct a building and related improvements on the leased portion to supply donated food and essentials to Wakefield residents who are in need. (Majority vote required)"

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