Eminent domain puts Ayer one step closer to parking facility

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Staff Report

AYER — The town of Ayer has acquired the Depot Square access property and the building housing Advocates, a requirement to receive funding for a planned parking facility.

Acquisition of the properties adjacent to the Ayer commuter rail access by eminent domain on June 2 was announced in a press release by Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand.

Following three years of unsuccessful negotiations with the property owner, Worthen Dale LLC, the Board of Selectmen initiated the process of eminent domain in April. In May, Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved using eminent domain to obtain the property so the project can proceed.

On June 1, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to execute the “Order of Takings for the Depot Square Access Property and the Advocates Building.” All of the legally required documents and paperwork were filed with the Middlesex Registry of Deeds on June 2, making Ayer the legal owner.

Gaining the property enables the town, working with the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority and the MBTA, to construct the $4.2 million “Ayer Rail Trail Commuter Surface Parking Lot and Access Improvement Project.”

The existing rail trail parking lot on Park Street will increase from 70 parking spaces to 210. Pedestrian signalization from the rail trail will be added across Main Street to a dedicated access through Depot Square to the MBTA commuter rail platform.

The project is intended to improve public access and safety to the commuter rail platform. The surface parking lot and access corridor will have improved lighting and security and a professionally designed streetscape and features.

The exact details of the Advocates building have yet to be worked out, but that property will serve as an enhancement to the access corridor. For the immediate future, the town will honor the existing terms of the leases of the fitness center and Advocates, the two current tenants.

It is estimated that the project would be completed by the spring of 2018.