Town Chooses Between History and Housing

Some Chelmsofrd, MA residents think gutting their historic town halls--one vacant for 20 years--to bring in much-needed affordable housing units is a great idea. But some still find the idea of marring such architectural icons unacceptable.

"'I do support housing for people in need,' Susan Gates said. 'But I do not support putting it in the Center Town Hall. That should be our cultural community center.'

Peggy Dunn agreed, saying it is 'unacceptable' for the Center Town Hall on North Road -- which is often used as an iconic image to portray Chelmsford -- to be gutted for apartments. But Dunn and several others said they favor placing affordable units in the North Hall, which has been mostly vacant for the past 20 years.

'Please don't dump on North like you've done in the past,' countered resident George Merrill, who gave a passionate speech against putting housing in what he called the 'only historically significant building left in North Chelmsford.'

Despite claims that the former North Town Hall, on Princeton Street in Vinal Square, is badly in need of repairs, Merrill argued that the structure is 'as sound as the day it was built,' and reminded the public that the Pop Warner football league still stores equipment in the building."

Full Story: Chelmsford housing debate pits past vs. present

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