Draper plan eyes housing, business
By Matt Lynch
HOPEDALE - The 1.3 million-square foot Draper Mill complex should be turned into a mix of business and
housing and the town should consider changing or amending its bylaws to help control any possible
development, according to a report released last night.
Some parts of the massive property could also be turned into walking trails and recreation areas,
according to the report.
Mike Ruane, chairman of the Draper Complex Reuse Committee, said the property is a tremendous future
"Hopedale has a remarkable opportunity for developing the mill," said Ruane. "It's an extremely attractive
location in the center of Hopedale Village. It's adjacent to parks and ponds."
The newest report came after the current owner of the property, Philip Shwachman of First American
Realty, had objected to a report released in February that sparked disagreement between Shwachman and
the town. Shwachman met with the committee to help draft this report after the first one was released.
"This is a productive step forward," said Ruane.
The committee credited Shwachman with taking major steps cleaning up and securing the property that
has stood vacant under various owners for more than three decades.
First American has spent more than $1 million in the last 18 months to remove underground storage
tanks, repair broken windows, improve security and demolish 500,000 square feet of structurally unsound
buildings, according to the report.
The report stated other demolition efforts are nearly 70 percent complete.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Alan Ryan, who represented selectmen on the committee last year,
credited the committee for pushing Shwachman to help with the reforms.
"At times it was very contentious because he felt he was doing all he could and the committee pushed for
more, and he did more," said Ryan, addressing Ruane, while former chairman, Barry Feingold looked on.
"You've all done a great job."
Ruane said the town should consider some sort of mixed use development as one of the most attractive
possibilities because the site, although zoned industrial, is not in shape for any kind of industrial use.
Ryan said the area couldn't be fully residential because the town couldn't handle the impact of such a
large population increase.
"You would see an increase of thousands in a town of 6,000," he said.
Ruane explained in the report that the town should consider "smart growth," changing the zoning laws and
bylaws to help the town have greater control over any possible development at the site.
When residents suggested fighting potential growth by not allowing residential development at the site,
Ruane said the developers would just go somewhere else in town.
"Smart growth is about the town taking control of the development and making sure it remains the way we
want it to be," he said.
One of the biggest factors will be whether the town can get state funding to help with the predevelopment.
"It's a small town and we're limited in our people resources," said Ruane. "Hopedale doesn't have the
resources to plan smart growth by itself."
Selectman Lou Arcudi said one of the key steps would be for town boards and committees to work together
on finishing a master plan for the town's future development.
Officials praised state Sen. Richard t. Moore, D-Uxbridge, and state Rep. Marie Parente, D-Milford, for
getting $25,000 for the reuse committee for fiscal 2007.
Draper Mill recommendations
Seek a large user to anchor the complex
Find another complex to model redevelopment after
Seek grants to pay for "smart zoning" research
Hire part-time planner to help project
Create a master plan for the area
Make public safety a priority at the site
Continue cooperation with the property owner
Milford Daily News, September 6, 2006
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