Effort To Revive Eldredge Garage Purchase

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Board of Selectmen News , Infrastructure

The Eldredge Garage property. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – The Eldredge Garage property on Main Street may be the last, best hope to get additional public parking in downtown Chatham.

“This is it,” said business owner Sandy Wycoff, referring to the land at 365 Main St.

Earlier this summer, selectmen decided to pass after holding preliminary talks with the Eldredge family on possible town purchase of the property. Wycoff is rallying merchants and residents to urge the board to reconsider their position.

The issue will be discussed at the board's meeting this Tuesday, July 26.

In early June selectmen announced that they had decided not to pursue acquisition of the property, which includes a vacant parcel as well as land which contains a garage and former gas station. The board said it balanced the opportunities presented by the property with the potential environmental consequences of long-term use of the property as a gas station and auto repair facility, as well as the impact of the $2.5 million asking price on the tax levy and free cash and the remove of the land from the tax rolls. The board was unwilling to hike taxes or decrease free cash for the purchase.

Wycoff said she's spoken with several selectmen, the chamber of commerce and the Old Village Association about the property, and is circulating a petition asking the board to revisit its decision.

She is also a member of an ad hoc downtown parking committee that has recommended several steps to help ease the downtown parking crunch, such as signs directing visitors to parking areas outside of downtown. But the Eldredge property is probably the last large piece of land that could potentially be available for public parking, she said.

“We need to look long and hard at it,” she said, adding that “the best thing people can do is come to the meeting.”

Selectmen will take up the discussion Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the annex.