West Boylston Lighting Factory to expand on site of former veterinary hospital

WEST BOYLSTON — If all goes according to plan, the former animal hospital at 29 Prospect St. will be razed this spring.

In its place, the West Boylston Municipal Lighthouse Factory plans to build a new facility to house the equipment.

“The proposed timber construction building is designed to resemble a residential property when viewed from Prospect Street and the five-bay garage faces Central Street,” said WBMLP Director Jonathan Fitch. “We are making sure that the building fits into our neighborhood and meets all our needs in the future. »

The building at 29 Prospect St. has been vacant for years. For decades, Dr. Robert Tashjian ran an animal medical center there. There had been a few issues, from an x-ray machine that exploded in the 1980s to complaints from neighbors about smells.

After it closed, it found itself in foreclosure in 2016; the light factory bought it for $225,000 in 2020.

The project will be funded by taxpayers, not taxes, using resources such as sinking funds, the reserve trust fund or a pooled loan program.

“WBMLP’s existing customer service and operations facilities were built in 1938, with additional offices and garages added in the 1950s and in 2013,” Fitch said.

A rendering of the building proposed by the West Boylston Municipal Light Department.

The current facility stands on the site of West Boylston Town Hall, built in 1904 after the reservoir was built, but burned down in 1917 after only a few years. Since then, the city has reused other buildings, from part of the DPW building to a former elementary school and tenant space for its municipal offices until less than ten years ago.

The WBMLP has an address at 4 Crescent St. Just across Prospect Street from the light factory facility, the former veterinary hospital site gives the department space to expand its facilities to walking distance.

“As we buy new utility vehicles, they need bigger and taller garages to secure them inside. Currently we keep one utility vehicle and two utility trailers stored outside. It shortens the life of our vehicles and trailers,” Fitch said.

“To accommodate our future needs, we purchased 29 Prospect St. directly across from our current location in November 2020. We are proposing to install a five bay garage with a small training/storage area and relocate our more large utility vehicles across the street for the new facility.

“The existing garage spaces will be renovated over time and will be able to accommodate our small vehicles, trailers and some of our electrical distribution equipment which is also stored outside our substation. Eventually, this will give us access to almost everything we need in the event of an emergency or breakdown in one central location,” he added.

Fitch said the department competitively selected Sorensen Partners, Architects + Planners, Inc., of Cambridge, as the architect in a tender for building design services.

Sorensen is currently completing the site design and helping the lighting factory obtain the necessary approvals, including special permits granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals, site plan reviews by the Planning Board and finally planning permission. .

The planning board is scheduled for a site plan review and stormwater permit hearing on March 9. This will be held at West Boylston Town Hall at 7:05 p.m.

Also on March 9, demolition bids are due, Fitch said.

“We would like to do a demo this spring to clean up and prepare the site,” Fitch said. “Once the site plan review is approved, we should be able to issue a request for proposals for project construction bids, say in May/June 2022.

“If the offers are too high, we are ready to wait a year. If they seem reasonable, given current supply chain issues and material prices, we could approve and begin construction by late summer 2022,” Fitch added.

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