Group Works to Help Town Purchase Eldredge Garage Property

sk_chatham-eldredge-garage_11-04-16-3CHATHAM – A group of citizens and businesses in Chatham are facilitating a deal for the town to purchase the Eldredge Garage property for public parking and open space.

Selectmen voted in August not to pursue a purchase of the Main Street land due to possible environmental issues and other unforeseen costs associated with the building on the property.

The Eldredge family, who owns the property, operates a paid parking lot and shuttle service on the land. The barn in the back of the property was built in 1904 and housed horses and buggies.

The business became an automobile service station which lasted through the mid-1970s.

Group member David Oppenheim said discussions with the Eldredge family have been successful.

“We structured an agreement we all agree is fair, but with the Eldredge family taking the responsibility of resolving any environmental issues,” Oppenheim said.

Negotiations are continuing and environmental surveys of the property are planned for the near future.

A Special Town Meeting is expected to be planned by the Board of Selectmen for January 23 for the town to vote on the purchase of the property.

The property is valued at about $2 million.

“We are all working towards a common goal which is basically for town meeting to have a choice, if all the criteria are met and the town can know it can buy a piece of property without environmental concerns, etc,” Oppenheim said. “Do they want to preserve this for future generations?”

If the property is bought by the town, parking lots can be expanded to be used by visitors or people who work downtown.

“If it goes away then it exacerbates the [parking] problem,” Oppenheim said.

There is also concerns that if the property is not purchased by the town it would be sold to developers to build more residential or commercial space.

“If it was developed as densely as commercial or residential it would make the problem even worse because there would be more demand for parking and less parking available,” Oppenheim said.


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