|Neighbors Of Watertown, Inc - News & Articles||
By: Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times Staff Writer | November 10, 2010
B.C. Stevens knew something was going on with the roughly 5-acre Ogilvie development site across from his California Avenue home when he saw a backhoe working on the vacant land about a month ago.
And he's optimistic about the site's prospects now that Neighbors of Watertown Inc. has announced plans to build about 18 single-family houses on the site of the now-defunct Ogilvie Foods plant off North Pleasant Street.
"It's probably the best possible use for it," Mr. Stevens said after hearing about the proposal Tuesday, a day after Neighbors presented conceptual plans for the project to the Watertown City Council.
Mr. Stevens and other neighbors are generally in favor of the agency building a housing subdivision near their homes, but some expressed concerns about exactly what types of houses would be built there and who would buy them.
Monday night, the council informally agreed to the concept of the project and promised the city would do what it can to help redevelop the site.
Last year, Terrence G. Smith, whose property at 201 California Ave. abuts the site, attended a city meeting about it and, at one time, approached the city about purchasing the portion that comes out to his street.
He's a little concerned that 18 houses will generate more traffic along the quiet street, where he's lived for seven years, especially if an entrance to the new street intersects with California Avenue.
Most of the neighbors own their homes, and everyone knows each other on his street, so he wonders if the character of his neighborhood would change drastically because of the new subdivision, Mr. Smith said.
"It's now almost like a dead-end street with little traffic," he said. "And I like that no one lives behind me. As long as it's done tastefully, I won't have too much of a problem with it."
Ashley J. Narrigan's family has been a mainstay of the North Pleasant Street neighborhood for decades. Her grandparents bought their home at 205 N. Pleasant St. in 1953.
Over the years, family members have never really complained about the lot overgrown with small plants and covered with "shot rocks," unscreened rock from local quarries that covers the factory's remaining foundation.
Sometimes, people cut through the open lot to get from one street to another, but for the most part, she hasn't seen too many problems having it there. Yet, she won't miss it if it's gone.
"I think it's a good idea to get rid of it," said Joseph W. Mac, who's lived just six houses down from the Ogilvie property for seven years. "It's really an eyesore."
Mr. Mac also likes the fact that Neighbors wants to devote a portion of the property to a playground and small park.
Under the best scenario, Neighbors Executive Director Gary C. Beasley said, funding sources might be found within the next several months, so construction could start next spring. Otherwise, it could take two or three years before the project gets off the ground. If all goes well, he soon will start looking for builders interested in getting involved in the project.
The sale price for the houses will depend on what the market can bear for that neighborhood, but it will not be as much as the $195,000 asking price for a house that Neighbors built recently on Ten Eyck Street, he said.
To help alleviate neighbor concerns, City Manager Mary M. Corriveau said the houses would be owner-occupied and buyers would have to be approved for a bank loan. However, some of the houses may be sold under first-time homebuyer programs through the state, Mr. Beasley said.
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