Letter: Vote ‘Yes’ to the monastery plan

Posted 5/22/24

To the editor:

I am writing to encourage residents to attend the upcoming financial town meeting and ask that you vote "yes" to the new monastery plan. This plan has taken two years, multiple …

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Letter: Vote ‘Yes’ to the monastery plan


To the editor:

I am writing to encourage residents to attend the upcoming financial town meeting and ask that you vote "yes" to the new monastery plan. This plan has taken two years, multiple renditions, and an endless amount of stress to come together. Here are a few of the reasons why I will be supporting this plan:
1) It is low density which means low impact on traffic, the environment, and schools. The plan aligns with the comprehensive plan as well as with the character of the neighborhood.
2) It includes senior housing, which was a stated goal at the original vote to purchase.
3) It includes green space. While many of us were hoping to have a much larger area of preserved green space, the town council has made it clear that there will be some form of housing on the site.
4) Approval of this motion means the town can start selling lots, beginning with the senior housing portion, thereby getting this property off of the town's expenses. The town currently spends over $300,000 annually in carrying costs for this property.
I understand there are concerns about approving this motion, including the following:
"Approval of this motion also approves demolition of the monastery building."
-I was originally against demolition as I had hoped repurposing the building would allow the rest of the property to remain green space. However, several inspectors have made it clear that repurposing the building would be too costly.
"Approval removes any chance for the entire property to become green space."
-A group of residents thoroughly researched available grants from conservation groups to help offset the cost of the property, however, we were advised by the town manager that those grants would have needed to be used for the original purchase with green space as the stated intended use. Additionally, the town will not consider any option for green space without housing included.
"The senior housing portion of land is being sold for $1 to the developer. How is the town recouping its money?"
-Yes, this raised my eyebrows as well. However, the reason the town is selling that part for only $1 is that it allows them to place very specific criteria on the builder which would otherwise have been too costly and thus
prohibitive to any developer. These criteria include high quality building standards, a portion of affordable units, "green" building provisions such as all-electric units, and a limit on the number of units built. The town has the opportunity to make money back from sales of the single-family lots.
"By voting against this motion we might hold out for something better."
-The town has carried this property for three years at a cost of over $300,000 per year. The town and residents have worked diligently to come up with a plan that addresses multiple, often conflicting, requests. I believe this plan includes something for everyone. I hope you will be able to attend the FTM (possibly the last of its kind!) and vote “yes” to the monastery plan.

Elizabeth Grieser


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