Wamesit Lanes Proposal Being Met With Overwhelming Approval
May 29, 2014 01:40PM ● Published by Bill Gilman
Donald MacLaren Sr.
Gallery: Wamesit Lanes Proposal [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Wamesit Lanes would be built at 450 Main St., on the site of what is now the Motel Caswell, a fixture in Tewksbury for more than a half-century.
Donald MacLaren and his son, Donnie, have signed a purchase and sale agreement with Russ Caswell to purchase the 4.3 acre parcel of land for $2.1 million, pending town approval of their project.
It's possible that no one in town is as happy about this deal as Caswell, himself.
"It's been a tumultuous few years for us, that's for sure," said Caswell, who successfully fought off an attempt by the Federal Government to seize his property because of alleged criminal conduct by guests.
"I'd been planning to sell the place before all the forfeiture nonsense started. I'd been talking about it," he said. "And then once it was over, we put it on the market."
The sale of the property and closure of the motel will allow Caswell to retire and spend more time with his wife, Patricia, who had been seriously ill during the forfeiture proceedings.
"Her kidneys had failed and her liver had failed. We almost lost her," said Caswell. "She's doing better. She's up and around and able to do things. She's come a long way."
The MacLaren's vision for Wamesit Lanes is a 45,000-square foot complex that includes 32 lanes of 10-pin bowling, golf simulators, an arcade, bocci courts, fire pits and a 160-seat restaurant. The MacLaren's expect the complex to generate between 80 and 100 full and part-time jobs.
Though the MacLaren's likely won't be formally presenting their proposal to the ZBA and Planning Board until July, town officials have already expressed excitement about the project.
“I’m guessing the proposal would bring in more revenue based on taxes and additional meals tax to the town, along with job generation,” said Montuori. “I can’t quantify a financial impact, but providing jobs to people in the community is always a positive thing."
Selectman Jim Wentworth, a former member of the town's Economic Development Committee, said he was pleased that MacLaren, who owns a local welding business, would step up with a plan of their scale.
"It's exciting that individuals who have run a business in Tewksbury feel comfortable making a significant investment in our town," said Wentworth. "We continue to be approached by various businesses who are interested in finding out what property we have available. I think it is a reflection of the solid future of our community."
Todd Johnson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Wamesit Lanes is just one piece of what he hopes will be large-scale improvements along Route 38 in the Wamesit neighborhood.
"It takes many bricks to build a foundation and this would be one of those bricks," said Johnson. "The state has already committed to repaving Route 38 from the Lowell line up to Astle Street. If we could get that pushed up a little further to this new complex. Maybe we could get some additional improvements like sidewalks (in that area)."
Johnson also said the proposed design and architecture of Wamesit Lanes would help ti improve the aesthetic of the "gateway" into Tewskbury from Route 495.
Danielle McFadden, Executive Director of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, said she believes the addition of a project like Wamesit Lanes could have a ripple effect. Not only could it help generate revenue for existing businesses in the area, it could also serve to attract other businesses to move into Tewksbury.
"What I have heard about the project, so far, is very intriguing," said McFadden. "Something like this can help make Tewksbury a 'destination' community."
Police Chief Timothy Sheehan, whose officers handle calls at the town's two discount motels (Motel 6 and Motel Caswell) on a regular basis, was quoted on Tewksbury Patch as saying the new project would likely allow the department to allocate resources elsewhere.
“We have expended an awful lot of resources down there that I don’t anticipate we will be using with this business going in there,” said Sheehan. “We welcome any new businesses where residents, and especially kids, can go for entertainment.”
Residents of Tewksbury, commenting on the Your Tewksbury Today web site and Facebook Page have been equally positive regarding the project:
- "This is one of the best stories I've seen in a while. -- Eddie Dufresne
- "This is fantastic news!" -- Lisa Broderick
- "Great thing for Tewksbury!" -- Bob Gill
- "Sounds awesome and will bring job opportunities and tax revenue!" -- Carol Osterman