If I could offer some unsolicited advice to the Foxboro Board of Selectmen, and the good people of that fine community, I would respectfully suggest they listen to the wise words Princess Elsa so eloquently spoke in the movie my grandkids saw at least 100 times — Frozen. “Let It Go.”
That’s what selectmen should do when they consider — for the umpteenth time — what to do with the old Foxboro fire station property in the center of town. At their meeting on Aug. 20, the board should issue a “municipal conversion permit” to King Builders that will end the long, sad saga of this property and allow the important and necessary modernization and revitalization of downtown Foxboro to proceed.
After all, it’s not like this is a sudden or impulsive move. This has been a painfully slow and tedious process, which in many respects it needed to be. Project after project has been proposed, rejected or ignored. This issue has been studied more often than most high school textbooks (they still DO use textbooks in high school, right?).
It is an important piece of property, and what happens with it will set the tone for how Foxboro will grow — not only in this area but throughout the community. It will tell both developers and the townspeople if Foxboro is really serious about making the downtown area better, or if they are just paying the topic lip service once again.
Without rehashing the long history of proposals, this is now down to one. King Builders was chosen in May because selectmen believed they had the best proposal. It’s time to get this project moving. It is time to let the old fire station and funeral home go.
Instead of an unusable eyesore, Foxboro will benefit from having a new restaurant and a new 15-unit apartment building with on-site parking. Four additional units above the restaurant/pub would bring the total residential unit count to 19.
This project will result in additional tax revenue to the town, additional foot traffic to local businesses in the area, and turn a decaying site into a revenue-producing enterprise that might encourage others to invest in the area.
That doesn’t mean the developer has to be given carte blanche to do as it pleases. Reasonable limits and accommodations can be made that protect the interests of abutters, the taxpayers, and people traveling through the center. But those limits and accommodations should be designed to make the project better, not cripple it or cause it to fail.
Nothing will ever get built at that site unless it is economically feasible and advantageous. The last 20 years have proven that.
Only three selectmen will be making the decision on the permit, as two have recused themselves due to apparent conflicts of interest. It would be wise of those three to allow the permit, and then let this project proceed through the normal building process including review by any applicable committees such as the planning board.
The property is zoned correctly. The buyer and developer are in place. The studying has been undertaken and completed. Just one thing now remains to be done here.
“Let it go.”