Published in the July 12, 2017 edition


WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen may take a closer look at the possibility of purchasing the federally-owned land on Tarrant Lane that is the site of 12 vacant single-family homes built in 1954 once used as housing by the Coast Guard. Prior to that, the land served as the control site for a Nike anti-aircraft missile base located in Reading.
The federal General Services Administration (GSA) is in the process of auctioning off the 3.74-acre site. Bidding opened last week.
Former Selectman Jim Scott has been an advocate of the town trying to get the federal government to give the land back to the town or sell it to the town at a reduced price.
Selectman Peter May reported at Monday’s board meeting that he and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio recently paid a visit to the site. While he was skeptical of the town’s ability to get the land back from the federal government, May said that he wanted to bring it to the board’s attention to see if they wanted to discuss it as an agenda item at a future meeting.
May speculated that the selling price would probably be in the $1.5 million to $3 million range and a sale would probably take place in the next couple of months.
“If the town can use it in some way, now is the time to decide,” he said. “Once we lose it, it’s gone.”
Selectman Brian Falvey asked about the town’s ability to buy the land. He said that he understood that a Town Meeting vote would be required, but he wondered about the possibility of the town submitting a bid in hopes of getting Town Meeting approval.
Town Counsel Thomas Mullen said that he was not sure that the federal government would accept a bid that was contingent on a Town Meeting vote.
Falvey speculated that if the town didn’t acquire it, the land most likely would be sold to a developer for condominiums or apartment buildings. He suggested that the town could acquire it and then put it out to bid under its own conditions, thereby retaining greater control of what the land is used for. Or, he said, the town might want to use it for sports fields or something else.
Chairman Paul DiNocco suggested putting the matter on board’s the August 14 meeting agenda for further discussion.
Maio said that he has been in contact with Congressman Seth Moulton’s office regarding the land and the town has received a bid package. Maio said that in a conference call with the GSA set up through Moulton’s office, a GSA representative told him that their goal was to get as much money as possible for the land because the Coast Guard would be using the funds to build housing where they need it.
Selectman Ann Santos agreed that it would make sense to make it an agenda item at a future meeting.
In other business this week, the Board of Selectmen:
• Scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 14 at 7:10 p.m. on a Package store liquor license for Prachi Corporation d/b/a McDonough’s Liquors, 13 Water St.
• Voted to approve a change to the signage on the field behind the High School to reflect the actual May 1977 dedication, whereby the field was dedicated as “The Shaun F. Beasley Track and Field.” The Beasley family will be covering the cost of the changes.