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July 16, 2014

Last stop for Danvers train station?

Business group opposes moving it to downtown parking lot

DANVERS —Town officials are looking to revive an effort to relocate and reuse the last remaining train station in town, one of nine that once stood here.

But that could trigger debate between preservationists and the downtown business community that opposes making the parking lot on Hobart Street the last stop for the large, wooden building.

“It’s not going to happen,” vowed C.R. Lyons, chairman of the Downtown Improvement Committee. Lyons said businesses are not against the preservation of the historic station, but they are against the station soaking up spaces in the 100-space parking lot they helped pay for.

Businesses contributed about half of the $1 million needed to buy the parking lot from the MBTA in 2006.

What is sparking the new debate is the inclusion in a proposed state bond bill of $750,000 “for the improvement and redesign of municipal land on Hobart Street with the relocated historic train depot in Danvers,” according to a press release from state Sen. Joan Lovely.

The bond bill still has to go to a House and Senate conference committee, and the governor has to release the money before it can be spent — a process that could take months or, even, years.

But the business community opposes the move.

Lyons said he is torn, as he is also a preservationist — he serves on the Historic District Commission. But he says the Hobart Street lot is about 70 percent full on most days, and the space is needed for parking. And he thinks the idea to reuse the station, perhaps turning it into a restaurant, would be unfair to other businesses in town.

“It’s not that I don’t want another business downtown,” he said, adding that if the station houses a business, it would set the town up as a landlord to a business that could dominate the parking lot.

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