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Planners hear Prescott proposal, call parking big asset


GROTON — A local developer appeared before the Planning BoardOct. 16 to fill in members on his plan to renovate the former Prescott Elementary School that he has offered to purchase from the town.

Gregg Yanchenko had hoped to seal the deal about buying the property earlier in the year but was frustrated following a narrow Town Meeting vote.

Since then, the town hired a real estate agency to make another try at selling the historic building, but, in the end, Yanchenko was again the only man standing. After that, the Board of Selectmen decided to move forward in support of the local businessman, negotiating a purchase and sales agreement and supporting related articles on the warrant for Town Meeting on Monday.

Clearly expecting Town Meeting to grant selectmen the authority to sell him the property, Yanchenko appeared before the Planning Board Oct. 16 for a pre-submission review of his plans for renovating the Prescott building.

Yanchenko has offered to pay the town $35,000 for the old school for use as office space. In addition, the developer has said he plans to spend another $65,000 for parking around the building, which could be available for use by the public, and $1.7 million to renovate the interior.

Also as part of a potential deal with the town, Yanchenko would be given a break on property taxes for the former school building by graduating them slowly upward over a seven-year period.

In return, the developer has offered use of the property for community events and public access to the rail trail at the rear of the site.

Yanchenko has said that he is open to the idea of leasing space in the building to the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District for its administrative offices.

“I am very interested in the Prescott School,” Yanchenko told board members. “My intent is to turn it into offices.”

In a brief summation of his designs for the building, the developer said he plans few changes to the exterior of the building save for landscaping improvements and replacing windows in the gymnasium that would not be seen from Main Street.

“Hopefully, the new windows will enhance the building,” said Yanchenko, adding that since the school was constructed in 1927, there had been no significant renovation work performed on it.

A key feature of the changes Yanchenko plans is the creation of 60 new parking spaces in addition to the 54 already in existence. Although his plan was to declare the 60 new spaces as municipal parking, he told the board that in his formal special permit application, he intends to ask if those spaces could be counted upon to accommodate employees and visitors to the offices inside Prescott should they be needed.

Yanchenko estimated that only 30-35 spaces would be needed for office traffic but that in case of some emergency he needed to count on the extra room.

“Those spaces will be more than adequate for the functions I envision for the building,” assured Yanchenko.

Board members had little comment on the developer’s plans except to suggest that he take into account the future possibility of connecting internal traffic with adjacent properties so as to relieve pressure on Main Street.

Other questions covered parking and a lease-versus-sale contingency for the town that would ensure that the historic building would never be completely lost to Groton.

Yanchenko assured the board such a contingency is being discussed with selectmen perhaps in the form of a 99-year lease, long enough to justify his monetary investment in the property.

At the conclusion of the meeting, board members signaled satisfaction with Yanchenko’s plans.

“The public parking portion is a boon for the town,” remarked board Chairman George Barringer.

Fellow board member Scott Wilson agreed. “The parking will be a tremendous asset to the town.”

Yanchenko said he looks forward to having a formal site plan review with the board following a positive vote on his securing of the property at Town Meeting.

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