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Grafton awarded MassDevelopment Technical Assistance grant to study redeveloping DPW site

July 21, 2019 : The Grafton News, by Richard Price

The Town of Grafton was awarded a $30,000 grant to begin the first steps in reimagining the site of the DPW facility after its operations move to its new location that is under construction.

The town made the announcement on July 17 in a news release saying it was awarded under the MassDevelopment Technical Assistance Program.

Known as the Grafton Eastern Gateway Master Plan the funds will be used to reach out to the community to “create a vision and a redevelopment plan for the Upton Street DPW Facility and adjacent properties east of the historic Grafton Town Common.”

The grant funding will “assess existing conditions, identify existing and future infrastructure capacities and improvements, identify natural constraints, with a key focus on [seeing] development potential for the project area,” a statement read. A consultant will gather input with residents and officials in public meetings as part of the development process.

Grafton was one of 10 cities and towns to be awarded a grant by MassDevelopment.

Grafton’s Town Planner Joe Laydon said the planning exercise might recommend housing, senior housing, mixed-use commercial with housing, commercial, or even some public purpose or recreation purpose. “Since the north side of Upton Street is currently zoned Residential 40 (minimum lot size 40,000 sq ft), most potential uses would require a zoning change,” he said.

Laydon also said there are wetlands and potentially other environmental constraints.

Town Meeting previously approved funding for environmental testing at the site which is underway and will play a role in this planning project, Laydon said. “Since this is a previously developed site, there are different standards that apply as part of redevelopment projects compared to if this was on vacant land,” he said. “But the project will take into consideration wetlands on the perimeter of the site and in the vicinity of other parcels.

Since the current site is walking distance to the Common, town officials have eyed the location as an opportunity. In the warm months, the Common is a draw for fairs, outdoor concerts and the farmers market. It is also near shops, restaurants and Apple Tree Arts which host concerts and other shows in the Town House year-round. The Common is also a draw during the town’s annual Grafton Celebrates the Holidays event in early December.