By Dot Bergin
It’s been a long ride but in the words of Cathy Cordes, town Moderator and former Selectman, “It’s a win for Bedford and it’s due to understanding how government works and [not giving up]. It’s the story of having a dream and wanting to see something good happen to this property.”
Selectman Margot Fleischman agreed. ” I’m beyond thrilled,” she said. “It’s a huge step towards bringing to life the town’s vision for this beautiful property. Sometimes we didn’t think we would ever get to this point, but four years of perseverance has really paid off. ”
A purchase and sale agreement was signed today, October 27, for the Town to acquire the 15 houses on Pine Hill Road, Mickelson Lane, and Lewis Road. The property is known colloquially as the Coast Guard Housing; many years ago military families did indeed live in the houses, but they have long stood vacant. A Request for Proposal for developing the property is expected to be released on Friday. It will be advertised widely, and several developers are already known to be interested.
More than four years ago, Cordes and Fleischman first explored how the town might acquire the property which had sat empty for many years. There were many obstacles and much negotiation over the years, as the property first had to be declared surplus and released to the General Services Administration.
A pivotal moment came at a Community Preservation meeting two years ago when Cordes insisted the Town should be prepared if the sale ever came to fruition. More importantly, she said, “we needed to know what the town wanted” in developing the property. Cordes, enthusiastically seconded by Gene Clerkin, suggested a design charrette. The Planning Board agreed, and in the spring of 2014 townspeople turned out in force for two charrettes.These were dynamic, hands-on events, facilitated by local architects who guided participants in exploring a variety of possibilities for the property, from cluster housing to cottage homes to apartments. Out of the two charrettes came guidelines for prospective developers, reflecting the desires of the town.[Click to view the Executive Summary from the Charrettes] One person remarked that the charrettes were among the best events the Town has ever produced.
A major breakthrough came this year when the Town was allowed to negotiate directly with the Coast Guard. Despite the slow progress, Cordes, Fleischman, Town Manager Rick Reed, the Planning Board, and others concerned with housing in Bedford have been persistent,
The Bedford Citizen has covered the ongoing Coast Guard housing story for almost 5 years, from the first suggestion in December, 2012 that the status of the property might be changing, through the most recent hints on October 14 that the next step in the process was imminent. We will follow this developing story with details of the RFP as soon as it is released.
December 19, 2012
Status of Coast Guard Housing on Pine Hill About To Change
June 5, 2014
Selectman Review Status of Coast Guard Property
December 12, 2014
Planning Board Reviews Coast Guard Housing RFP
October 14, 2016
Housing Partnership Hears Update On Coast Guard Housing