RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1: Please discuss the history of the chapel and its historic significance to the neighborhood and why it is important to preserve the building for the neighborhood. (Richardson)
Response to Question 1:
As described in the background materials for the 2013 Annual Town Meeting, the Nobscot Chapel is a landmark of local historical significance at the intersection of Edgell Road and Water Street.
The Chapel was constructed in the 1880’s and while it does not appear on either the federal or state Registers of Historic Places it is listed as a cultural resource by both the Massachusetts Historic Commission and the Framingham Historic Commission.
The Chapel is one of the last remaining structures of the Nobscot village of the 19th century. The Chapel has 1,798 square feet of gross floor area and sits on .22 acres of land. The overall condition is considered poor to fair.
In May 2013, the vote of Town Meeting under Article 35 of 2013 Annual Town Meeting authorized the Board of Selection to petition for special legislation that would allow the Town to offer 780 Water Street-a tax foreclosed property—by a using a Request for Proposal – an RFP – process.
That special legislation became Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2013, enacted by the General Court on November 20, 2013.
In 2014, the Town issued its first RFP to sell the Chapel land. The goals of this RFP were threefold:
Although the 2014 RFP yielded 2 bids, neither of them were considered “responsive”.
I took office as Mayor in January 2018, a bit more than one year ago, and as I will discuss in my responses to your questions, Nobscot quickly became a priority for my administration.
In 2018, the City issued RFP No. 6592, which was withdrawn for lack of responsive bids, and RFP No. 6608, which received two bids, one of which was deemed by the evaluation team to be responsive.
Question 2: Please describe the improvements to the Edgell/Edmands/Water Street intersection and the land that the chapel currently is on and how the intersection improvement plan is affected by the current location of the Chapel. (Richardson)
Response to Question 2:
If the Chapel cannot be relocated, the alternative would be to demolish it.
Question 3: How long ago did the Star Market vacate the Nobscot Plaza and the first time (if this information is available) that Mr. Rose reached out to the town expressing an interest in working with the town to develop the property? (Richardson)
Response to Question 3:
Question 4: Please provide a brief summary (if this information is available) of the amount of work the Town/Community & Economic Development Dept: has done with members of the Nobscot neighborhood to try and reach consensus regarding the future of Nobscot Plaza. (Richardson)
Response to Question 4:
Question 5: If this information is available, please share what we know about the lease with CVS currently and the prospect of what potentially could happen with the property if CVS vacates the Plaza (as the last tenant of the property) and to follow that, what Shaw's Supermarkets (current lessee) could do with the property if there are no longer tenants. (Richardson)
Response to Question 5:
Question 6: The special act from 2013 that was referenced in your letter to the Council provides the final approval authority to the Board of Selectmen. As you are aware, after the change in the charter some duties of the Board of Selectmen have vested in the Council and other in the Mayor. This special act is not among a long list of acts specifically documented in the Charter as an act that continues. Has there been an advisory opinion sought from the Inspector General that concurs with the apparent local interpretation that the special act is still valid in a city and the Mayor specifically assumes the power of the Board of Selectmen in this instance? (King)
Response to Question 6:
SECTION 1. (a) Notwithstanding section 43 of chapter 60 of the General Laws or any other general or special law, by-law or ordinance to the contrary, the Town of Framingham, acting by and through its board of selectmen, may, subject to section 16 of chapter 30B of the General Laws, dispose of certain real property located at 780 Water Street through the issuance of a request for proposals.
(b) The request for proposals and disposition of the property shall reflect the unique locally-significant historic, cultural and architectural quality of the building on the property within the Nobscot community of the town of Framingham, shall achieve the goals of recovering amounts due to the town, protecting the building from demolition or relocating the building for productive use and adding the building to the municipal tax base and shall include such other terms and conditions as the board of selectmen may determine.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Question 7: What is your vision, role, plan, and efforts on the matters relative to Nobscot? (Cannon)
Response to Question 7:
Question 8: What is your long-term vision for a successful Nobscot Plaza? Is Mr. Rose's latest plan, which calls for, among other things, a 4-story apartment building, consistent with that vision? (Steiner)
Response to Question 8:
Question 9: Would you explain your strategy of the Nobscot Chapel decision as it fits into your overall redevelopment strategy for Nobscot Plaza and the Nobscot area? (Giombetti)
Response to Question 9:
Question 10: Why after Mr. Robert, Mr. Halpin and other officials agreed that the only negotiating lever that the people of Framingham had regarding the Nobscot plaza was the Chapel and that it was decided not to do an additional RFP until a satisfactory solution for the blighted shopping center was approved was our only piece of negotiating leverage given away? (Tully Stoll)
Response to Question 10:
I can’t speak to what other public officials may or may not have said, I have to work with the information that I have today. In my view, the proper mechanism for a satisfactory solution for the blighted Nobscot shopping center is through rezoning and the diligent work of the Planning Board. To make that happen, it is necessary to address the Chapel decision and the intersection improvements as I have described previously.
The RFP was conducted in accordance with public procurement law, and Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2013.
Holding up any improvements in the Nobscot area in order to leverage movement on the Nobscot Plaza has resulted in no progress in the past 20 years. Continuing to own this Chapel and the land underneath does not serve the City or the ultimate path to redevelopment in Nobscot.
Question 11: What were the criteria and rationale by which the decision to either award or reject Nobscot bids? (Giombetti)
Response to Question 11:
Question 12: Given the high value the property offers to the owner Of the Nobscot Shopping Center it was likely he would be a bidder. Why did the administration choose to bid this parcel at this time before the issue of the shopping center's future was determined? (King)
Response to Question 12:
Question 13: Considering the cost of moving the chapel and the $50,000 purchase price, the city is selling the property substantially under its appraised value which is the mid-$300 thousand range. Why is the City willing to accept such a low price? (King)
Response to Question 13:
Question 14: What are next steps in the Nobscot Chapel award and what assurances does the neighbors have that redevelopment of the plaza will be put forward by the owner? (Giombetti)
Response to Question 14:
Question 15: What guarantees do we now have that Mr. Rose will come forward with anything remotely suitable for the Plaza since he finally has what he has wanted all along? (Tully Stoll)
Response to Question 15:
Question 16: What is to stop Mr. Rose from building a CVS on the corner and leaving the rest of the plaza as is? (Steiner)
Response to Question 16:
Question 17: Why after Mr. Rose changed a plan that was close to approval by the neighbors and then pulled out from under them by Mr. Rose with a plan for four story buildings closely abutting a residential neighborhood did the City not cancel the RFP? (Tully Stoll)
Response to Question 17:
Question 18: Is there a provision ensuring that the historic chapel will be sited on the former gas station property as was described in the RFP? What assurances do we have that there is no environmental contamination on this property? (Steiner)
Response to Question 18:
The City has accepted Nobscot Center, LLC’s proposal and has agreed to close after Buyer receives:
Question 19: Why has the City Council and the public been kept in the dark regarding the Nobscot Task Force? (Tully Stoll)
Response to Question 19:
Question 20: Why when this decision was in the process of being made, did you not once hold Office hours in Nobscot? (Tully Stoll)
Response to Question 20: