Meeting to shed light on Danvers Hay Barn project

File photoResidents on Saturday can learn about a plan to refurbish the old Hay Barn at Endicott Park into a place for weddings, events, conferences, community gatherings and recreational programs.

DANVERS — Residents will be able to learn more about a proposed $3.4 million project to refurbish the old Hay Barn at Endicott Park into a place for weddings, events, conferences, community gatherings and recreational programs.

An open house is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m., at the park’s Carriage House on Forest Street, during which residents can provide feedback on plans.

The hay barn served as a farm building for the former Endicott Estate on Forest Street.

The 1930s barn has been used as storage since 1961, when the town acquired much of the estate for the 165-acre Endicott Park. The town sees the potential for the barn to be renovated to generate income from weddings and events and create a new community gathering space, Town Manager Steve Bartha said.

In 2017, the state awarded the town a $1 million MassWorks grant to help the project along. Not long after, an ad hoc committee of residents was formed from members of the Recreation Committee, the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, the Friends of Endicott Park and neighbors.

“They are really familiar with what the hay barn committee wants to accomplish,” Bartha said. Saturday’s meeting will unveil what the groups have been talking about to a wider audience.

The barn would made handicapped accessible and climate controlled. A prep kitchen for caterers and bathrooms would be installed, and parking would be located behind the building.

Bartha said the committee has been conscious that the hay barn has to fit both architecturally and programatically with the park.  

“They didn’t want anything that would interfere with the current programming and what makes Endicott Park unique,” Bartha said. 

One of the members of the committee, Selectman Diane Langlais, said the hay barn would provide another venue in Danvers to compliment others, like nearby Glen Magna Farms, and keep events like weddings or sports banquets from leaving town. It would also provide a space for Recreation Department programs at Endicott Park.

“Now we have another venue for a rainy day,” she said.

A consultants’ estimate is that at first, half the debt service for the project would be offset by money generated from events, Bartha said. After four years, revenues would offset debt service and expenses and provide a revenue stream to help support the park.

The committee has also been sensitive to concerns that the project could generate too many visitors and overrun the park, which already sees an estimated 200,000 visitors a year. 

The timing for the project to go before Town Meeting would be May 2020.

 The open house will feature officials, Hay Barn Committee members and architects who will take part in a round-table discussion, a brief tour and a question-and-answer session. There will be door prizes, light refreshments and kids’ activities.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews. 

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