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Your Tewksbury Today

LETTER: Voters At Town Meeting Have A Chance To Save Hardy-Pike House

Apr 27, 2016 10:55AM ● By Bill Gilman

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:
The Tewksbury Historical Society has a mission that spans three purposes.  One is preservation of artifacts and buildings that reflect Tewksbury history, the second is to educate the public about Tewksbury history and the third is to research Tewksbury history.  
The Tewksbury Historical Society’s, Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposal by Jim Andella to move the 286 year-old Hardy-Pike House, the third oldest house in town, from its present location at 464 Main Street to preserve it at 155 East Street.  The house was lived in by William and Nehemiah Hardy, who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Town Clerks, Alice Pike and Denise Graffeo handed out marriage certificates, birth certificates, and death certificates several hundred years later at the Hardy-Pike house. The Hardy-Pike House has been on 464 Main Street since 1730 and was first called the Half-Way House. It was positioned as a stagecoach stop half way between Boston and Nashua, New Hampshire.  It was also a temporary town hall, several restaurants, a gift shop, and a bookstore/internet cafe.  Every house on the town’s survey of the historic homes has undergone renovations.  Insides get remodeled, outsides get remodeled.  It is historic due to its age and what happened at the house.  Residents admire the attractive condition of the house while the Town’s Assessor  might frown knowing we will lose taxes on the $551,900 assessed Inn if demolished.  
 If Jim Andella is able to move this house to 155 East Street, it will be the first house moved and saved from demolition in recent Tewksbury history.  The Society does not want to see this icon demolished but the decision is up to the people of Tewksbury, not the Society and not Jim Andella. We recommend you go to the Town Meeting on May 2 and support the preservation of this building by moving it from 464 Main Street.
Town Manager Richard Montuori, four years ago came up with a quote of $500,000 to $600,000 for his plan to move it to the old Police Station.  The difference between that plan and Jim Andella's plan is that Jim is a developer.  Mr. Montuori did not have a source of income to pay for the moving plan thus Montuori opted to demolish it.  Jim has a place to put it but he needs a zoning change to “mixed use” to relocate the 286 year-old, Hardy-Pike house.  His conceptual plan is to construct 15 townhouses on 3 acres of land.  This will help pay for the moving of the Hardy-Pike House. 
A. Jim will also have to demolish the house at 155 East Street and  to build a new foundation there. 
B. Jim will then remove the additions on the Hardy-Pike House. The original house also needs some site work to remove it from its foundation and to fit it down the roadbed. 
C.  The house will move down Main Street to 155 East Street in one day. 
D.  The East Street land that Jim Andella owns is in a triangular residential mostly residential area.  Let’s call this area the “Triangle” for the shape of Lee Street, Chandler Street and East Street.  The following facts show the “Triangle” is already a mix of business and residences serving Tewksbury’s needs.   
1.  At the eastern tip of this “Triangle” is a Senior Citizen Center, a business that accommodates the needs of Tewksbury’s Senior Citizens as a community meeting, health, and social center.  
2.  Opposite from the 155 East Street site is a cemetery, owned by a non-profit business run by the Tewksbury Cemetery Trustees for the citizens of this town.
3.  Also the eastern tip of the “Triangle” has two Little League fields that accommodate the needs of our youth and it is very busy, community meeting place for Tewksbury adults and baseball players. 
4.  On the opposite side of this tip of the “Triangle” and running down Chandler Street is the Hospital Campus.  This campus houses the Department of Mental Health serving the Commonwealth’s citizens and the Public Health Museum that is open to the public.  It also has numerous historic buildings and open fields that are used for agricultural and recreational purposes.  The Hospital’s history is Tewksbury’s history and the “Triangle’s” history.
e.  At the southern tip of the “Triangle” is the Tewksbury Town Library serving Tewksbury citizens.  
f.  Opposite from the Library is a gasoline, convenience, and Dunkin’ Donuts business.  
g.  On the corner of Lee Street and East Street, there is a multiple dwelling, condo development with a newly renovated, historic building that is approved to be a Bed and Breakfast business.
h.  Across the street is a 4 unit, residential apartment house on Lee Street.
i.  Also opposite the condo development is a funeral home on the western tip of the Lee Street “Triangle”.

You, the tax payer and voters must decide on whether to vote for moving the Hardy-Pike house and rezoning this 3 acre piece of land, or to vote to keep 155 East Street a residential zone thus sentencing the Hardy-Pike House to demolition.
The Tewksbury Historical Commission also joined the Society in supporting Mr. Andella’s plans.  Their minutes from 1-25-2016 state the Commission “voted 4-0 with 2 members abstaining on January 25, 2016, to support Mr. Andella’s effort to rezone 155 East Street from residential to commercial zoning for the purpose of moving the Hardy-Pike House to this property.”  Curiously, Town Historian Warren Carey abstained.  We shall see if the Town Historian will vote to save or vote to demolish on May 2, 2016?  Your vote will count as much as Mr. Carey’s vote.  Will Tewksbury continue to demolish old houses or will this vote stop the wrecking ball’s streak ?

David E. Marcus
Interim President of the Tewksbury Historical Society
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