By Jon Bishop, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ayer will be getting a new grocery store, according to David Maher, director of community and economic development.
In a press release, he wrote that Paul diGeronimo, owner of the now-vacant 22 Fitchburg Road property, has secured a new tenant. The previous one, Hanford, left at the end of January.
The tenant, Mike Szelest, runs Central Supermarket in Winchendon. The Ayer store will be under a different name, Maher said.
“It’s something that the town really wants,” Maher told The Public Spirit. “They’re going to be making it better.”
The store might not be as big as Market Basket, he said, but it will be family-owned.
Maher also said that its supplier will be Hanford.
According to the press release, the store will likely open in mid July.
The Ayer Ski Hill, touted as the “largest trestle ski jump in the United States,” lasted only three months, from January to March of 1936. The history of the jump is sketched in Dick Kenyon’s Five Hills: A Research Report. File Photo
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AYER — To paraphrase novelist Cormac McCarthy, the Ayer Ski Hill is now myth, legend, dust. But, oh, what might have been.
The ski hill had a short life — lasting about three months, from January to March of 1936 — but, for a time, it was the “largest trestle ski jump in the United States,” according to a flier advertising its opening.
A group of ski jumpers decided that there weren’t enough places in Southern New England for winter athletes. After some searching, they chose Ayer’s Pingry Hill for a ski jump, wrote Dick Kenyon, in his Five Hills: A Research Report, on file at Ayer Public Library.
The ski jump cost about $20,000, and the parking area could hold 5,000 cars, Kenyon wrote. It officially opened on Jan. 25, 1936. Some specifics of the jump: a 75-foot-tall standing platform, 175 feet from landing to level, a distance of 709 feet from takeoff to level, a 409-foot takeoff. Also, the jump itself was detachable, if you wanted to go longer.
And to land safely, you had to jump straight up into the air at a distance of 125 feet, the advertisement said.
There were 200 acres of rolling hills for tobogganing, bobsledding, snowshoeing and skiing. And there was a call to action from the advertisement: “Make this place your winter playground.”
Kenyon wrote that Anton Lekang, a ski jumper enshrined in the United States National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum, had the inaugural run, but he didn’t have enough speed, and so he bounced on the landing trestle, fell, and then slid down the rest of the ramp before hitting the ground.
He broke his ankle.
The day after its opening, Jan. 26, Clarence Olsen jumped 145 feet, Kenyon wrote. In February, people would pile under the lights to watch ski jumpers soar into the night sky.
But there wasn’t much snow that winter, according to Kenyon. Not long after Ayer Ski Hill opened, it closed. And, in July of that year, a severe storm destroyed the in-run portion of the trestle.
Now, in 2014, nothing remains of the Ayer ski jump, with houses now dotting Pingry Hill, and a lot of the people who would have seen and experienced it are now deceased, taking their memories with them.
But that’s not the case with Ernie Blasetti.
Blasetti, 98, was 15 when the Ayer Ski Hill opened.
“I remember when they built it,” he said. “I used to go down there every night.”
At the time, he worked at the gas station on Route 2A, he said, and he and his friends would walk down to the hill.
When the hill opened, skiing “was a new venture,” he said.
“They didn’t ski back then as they do today,” he said.
No one was surprised that it closed, though, he said. Since it was designed for ski jumping, only a few people would utilize it, he said.
Still, the Ayer Ski Hill remains unique even today.
“There isn’t anything like (the Ayer Ski Hill) now,” he said.
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_27362440/short-lived-but-long-remembered-ayer-ski-jump#ixzz3TFFz9mHg
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.
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_27270450/ayer-board-buoyed-by-economic-development-update#ixzz3OEjuxicy