Marsh Offers To Donate Senior Center Land

By: Tim Wood

This site plan shows the proposed location of a new senior center at 1610 Main St. Route 28 is shown as it will be following the completion of the West Chatham Roadway Project.

CHATHAM – William Marsh, owner of Eastward Companies, has offered to donate to the town the two parcels of land in West Chatham which have been identified as a site for a new senior center.

A special town meeting will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 4) to vote on acquisition of the land at 1610 Main St. Marsh and the town had agreed on a $750,000 price for the property. But at a meeting with Town Manager Jill Goldsmith and Chair of Selectmen Shareen Davis requested by Marsh Thursday, he offered to donate the land to the town. Because the land is being donated rather than sold, Saturday's vote will require a simple majority rather than a two-thirds margin.

In a press release, Marsh said he has lived and worked in town for 50 years and decided to donate the land after spending the holidays with his 93-year-old mother Betty Marsh. The gift will honor his mother and late father, Fred.

“While enjoying Christmas and First Night with my mother and our family, I decided that donating the property would be a meaningful way to give back to a town that has given so much to us,” Marsh said in the press release.

“The town is grateful for Mr. Marsh's offer and his interest in our community, especially our senior residents who will benefit from his generous donations,” Davis said in a press release issued by the town early Friday. The financial impact of the donation to the cost of developing a new senior center at the location is “beneficial and profound,” she said.

Marsh initially offered the land to the town for $1 million in 2018. After voters rejected $6.6 million for a senior center on town-owned land off Middle Road at the May annual town meeting, selectmen conducted a subsequent second round of investigation into private property that might be suitable for the facility. Marsh offered the land, which he purchased in 2016 for $437,500, for $900,000; selectmen later negotiated the price down to $750,000.

A December appraisal of the 1.3 acres commissioned by selectmen put its value at $775,000.

The motion at Saturday's special town meeting will ask voters to accept the donation of the property, according to Goldsmith.

Final purchase of the property will still be contingent on final design and construction funding at the May annual town meeting. On Saturday voters will be asked to appropriate $130,000 from free cash to complete a conceptual design and cost estimate for a senior center at the West Chatham site.

The special town meeting begins Saturday at 1 p.m. at Monomoy Middle School on Crowel Road.