“Oh, absolutely,” Partanen said. “It’s still going to be a park.”
The city has tried to rent the house before, once to Gordon College and another time to Salem Little League, but neither deal worked out. This time, the goal is to find a “caretaker-tenant.”
“A caretaker will help maintain this historic building and the surrounding grounds,” Partanen said in a statement. “We’re hoping to find someone who will keep the house up in a manner that best respects Dr. Mack’s sense of community and his gift to the city.”
A caretaker will give the city “a year-round presence on the hill, to keep an eye on the park and ensure it is kept safe, clean and vibrant for the neighborhood and our community’s children to enjoy,” Driscoll said in a statement.
The park has had problems with vandalism in the past.
Neighbors didn’t like the prospect of college students moving into Dr. Mack’s house but seem to be warming to the idea of a caretaker.
“The house is deteriorating sitting there by itself,” said Rosemary O’Connor of the Mack Park Association. “It’s shameful the city would let something so beautiful deteriorate like that. We’d love to see it occupied.”
The caretaker’s job is an unpaid position with a one-year lease and an option to renew. The $500 rent does not include utilities. The city has issued a “request for qualifications,” which is due back Monday.
For more information, go to the city’s website (www.salem.com), click on the “Purchasing Department” and search under “RFQs,” or requests for qualifications.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.