Ayer board buoyed by economic development update
By Jon Bishop
AYER — On Tuesday, at the first meeting of the new year, the Ayer Board of Selectmen had the chance to reflect on 2014 and focus on 2015.
The board heard an overview of the past year from David Maher, director of community and economic development. Taco Bell and Subway have both opened, he said, and, in the spring, Wendy’s will be redone. He also noted that the Spaulding Building will have two new businesses: UNION Coffee Roaster and Heads Up, a hair and nail salon.
Maher said he met Monday with a potential tenant for the Hannaford site, which he couldn’t yet reveal. But he did said that it’s a local grocery store chain from Western Massachusetts.
“I was very excited about that meeting,” he said.
Maher said he’s putting together a map legend that would contain information about town services and local restaurants.
“The design has been done,” he said. “We’ve basically got that whole infrastructure ready to go.”
He’s also working with the Historical Society to create a walking tour through Ayer.
The board appreciated the update.
“Good work, David,” said Chairman Chris Hillman.
“I love these reports you give,” said Vice Chairman Jannice Livingston, later adding that it was a “nice way to start off the new year.”
Alicia Hersey, the grant writer for the Office of Community and Economic Development, said that they’ve got the “regulatory agreement ready to go” for the Habitat for Humanity Local Initiative Program site at 76 Central Avenue.
Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts is also still searching for families, she said. Anyone interested can either contact her or Habitat.
Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand said that the Depot Square land transaction still remains between Phil Berry, the landowner, and the MBTA. The transaction would allow the development of a pedestrian walkway and a vehicular turnaround at the Ayer commuter rail stop.
“We will continue to make that a priority,” Pontbriand said.
He said that the fiscal ’16 budget process is underway, and he also said that the senior tax work-off program will commence. Those interested can acquire forms either online or at the town hall.
“We’re ready to go,” he said.
After giving his update on the Joint Boards of Selectmen, which decided recently to hold more public hearings on the proposed Chapter 498 zoning amendments, Selectman Gary Luca said he would like to know whether the New England Recovery Center, a proposed hospital for psychiatric and substance-abuse patients, would affect the Nashoba Valley Medical Center.
“I’m all for competition, but I’m not all for them taking the hospital,” he said.
But Carly Antonellis, the Assistant to the Town Administrator, said that, when she worked in the senate, she saw that there was a high demand for services.
The Board of Selectmen entered executive session to discuss litigation strategy for Bolduc Enterprises v. Town of Ayer, which involves an alleged breach of contract, at about 8:13 p.m.