Council reviews options for North Attleborough’s LeStage Property

The future of the LeStage Property has been discussed for years with no answer decided on. Town Manager Michael Borg has presented four options, most of which include demolishing the house. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
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By Max

Twenty years ago the town spent $3 million to purchase the LeStage Property, on which sits the historic Codding Farm.

Since that time another $1 million was spent on repairs to the home and the barn was demolished. Meanwhile, the question remained—what to do with the property?

While that still remains unanswered, the sentiment for now seems to be finding an alternative to spending more money on the aging building.

Located on High Street, the land was owned by members of the LeStage family, who also ran a jewelry business started in 1863. It was Suzanne LeStage who sold the land and buildings to the town. Behind the house sits the Community Garden. The Historical Commission worked with a preservation consultant to list approximately four acres and the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2009. This was funded by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

At Monday’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Michael Borg presented four options for the property’s future. One calls for the home to be refurbished and potentially used as an office for the Parks and Recreation Department or Cultural Council. Borg has spoken with Historical Commission Chair Richard Miller, who expressed interest in this option. It’s estimated that the cost for refurbishing would be around $300,000, and the increased price of lumber would be a factor.

What we’re doing is nothing and that is going to come to a quick end, unless we do something,” he said.

Another option would be to sell the property but leave the land behind it—including the Community Garden—as is. Borg said the land is zoned R20, which would allow another home to be built. The town would see $350,000 from the sale and another $8,000 annually in taxes.

The sky’s the limit with this particular lot,” he said.

Demolition of the home and creating a park was the third option, and this appealed to the council. This could cost an estimated $625,000 to demolish and construct a park.

The fourth possible use would be to sell the property it sits on, along with the land behind it. This could be divided into nine parcels, with the estimated revenue being $1.8 million for the sale. The nearby soccer fields would be untouched, but the garden would need to be moved.

Miles Miller, part of the leadership of the garden, said moving the 45 plots—which are built from cedar wood or steel—would be labor intensive. He added that if the final plan allows for the garden to remain where it is, that a more defined boundary be created for it.

We’d like to see one of these plans establish true boundaries as we look to expand,” said Miller.

Borg plans to return to the council in 90 days with a more defined plan, though many expressed their desire to see something new on the property. Councilor John Simmons said he wouldn’t vote to put any money into the building or move the garden.

I expect a mix of the options,” he said.

Councilor JoAnn Cathcart has said in the past that she wouldn’t support more money to repair the house. She liked the idea of tearing it down and building a park, creating something for the community to enjoy.

People keep coming (to North Attleborough) because it’s a great place to raise families in,” said Cathcart.

Council President Justin Pare said that 20 years ago the town purchased the land but did nothing with it, and now has the chance to “make that right.” He said the land nearby is used for fields, and future development could have that in mind.

I’m sorry that the building is in the state it’s in,” said Pare. “It’s time to move forward.”