By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — A proposal to construct an indoor recreation facility at an abandoned site at 143 Lynnfield St. is getting a lot of support from city officials but also cautions from some residents. The recreational use requires a special permit, and that request is likely to go before the City Council at its next meeting, Aug. 22.
The plan will be presented with positive recommendations from both the community development department and the police. Recently, the proposal passed muster with the Conservation Commission.
“It’s just an old tannery, decrepit and overgrown,” City Council President Tom Gould said. “And I think this is going to be a welcomed addition, a good opportunity.”
The project is spearheaded by developer Bob Denisco under the name GM Fine LLC. In the past, Denisco has attracted some criticism for his work. Gould acknowledged that some people might have misgivings as a result, but he added that the council will keep a close eye on the project.
“We can make sure this is put in place properly,” he said.
According to Denisco’s lawyer, Jack Keilty, the new building will provide a space for teen gymnasts and will host a group of female gymnasts called the Yellow Jackets, who already have a place in Middleton.
“This will be in addition to the Middleton facility,” he said, noting the popularity of the sport.
In addition to the recreation area, the finished project would include storage space. At 7 acres, the parcel has 271 parking spaces. The entrance to the new facility would be from Corwin Street and not Lynnfield Street.
“The building has been underutilized for the last several years,” said Denisco in a submission to the city. He proposes refurbishing portions of the existing building, demolishing portions and constructing a new building on the site.
“This use is compatible with nearby, adjacent uses,” said community development planner Blair Haney in a report. While recommending approval, he called for the developer to improve a section of Corwin Street and put some storm drains in order.
A note from police Capt. Joseph Berardino outlined that department’s reasons for supporting the project.
“These abandoned buildings have been a location of concern,” he wrote. “Rave parties have been scheduled at this location through the Internet, malicious damage by youths to the property occurs chronically and the condition of the these buildings is extremely hazardous as they stand today. It is an attractive nuisance.”
In an email to the City Council, Aborn Street resident Christina Odoardi outlined some objections to developer Denisco and his past work on her street.
“The Maple Village complex and all the owners here suffered great losses as a result of Mr. Denisco’s failure to properly finish this building as well as his failure to abide by the ‘special permit’ he was granted. The association was forced to take him and his LLC to court ... It cost thousands of dollars.”
Odoardi added, “Any special permits granted should be overseen/monitored through completion as well as have protections/penalties along with recourse for noncompliance.”
Russ Donovan, another resident and a candidate for at-large councilor, said he supports the project but believes the city ought to take notice of the stream running through the land and require flood mitigation measures.
Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.