SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 19, 2013

$100K sought for carriage house

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The Lynch Park carriage house has come a long way since volunteers began working 11 years ago to turn the seaside building into a viable community center.

Now Mayor Bill Scanlon wants the city to push the project to the next level.

Scanlon last night asked the City Council to approve spending $100,000 on renovations to the carriage house.

He said the money will pay for new windows and doors that will add to the improvements that have already been made and allow the city to rent out the building for more wedding receptions and other events.

“The goal is to reach the point where revenues from rentals make the building self-sufficient,” Scanlon said.

About $400,000 in renovations and improvements have been made to the city-owned building since 2002, when a group of citizens formed the Lynch Park Advisory Committee with the goal of saving the deteriorating structure.

Much of the work has been done with money raised from private donations. The city has spent about $150,000 on the building.

Lynch Park Advisory Committee chairwoman Denise Deschamps told councilors that 10 private events, including six wedding receptions, have been booked for 2013. With more improvements and marketing efforts, the building should be able to attract even more customers, she said.

“We could have 20 weddings per year,” Deschamps said, with a fee of around $3,000 per wedding.

The latest improvements would include the installation of French doors or large windows that would provide “spectacular ocean views,” Scanlon said. The plans would also create an outside seating area and cosmetic improvements to lighting, walls and windows.

The carriage house was built sometime between 1893 and 1907 and is the only remaining historic building from the former estate, which the city purchased into 1946 and turned into Lynch Park.

The council must hold a public hearing on the spending request, so no final vote was taken. But most councilors seemed to be in favor.

“I’m in full support of this,” Councilor Maureen Troubetaris said. “We have to spend money to make money, and we will make money on this.”

Councilor Jim Latter asked Scanlon whether the $100,000 could be better spent on other projects.

“Not that I could think of at this minute,” Scanlon said. “There will be a return on our investment.”

Scanlon said the city will also be able to use some money from the Community Preservation Act, which voters passed in November, to pay for more improvements to the carriage house.

Scanlon said he would like to see the improvements completed by May 15. The council voted to hold the public hearing on April 1.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.