Parking lot purchase to go before Middleboro voters

Mar 14, 2023

MIDDLEBORO — Middleboro Town Meeting voters will be asked this spring whether to spend $750,000 to purchase the parking lot at 13 School St. in the downtown area.

The Select Board agreed in a 4-1 vote at their March 13 meeting to bring the issue to voters.

Supporters said the purchase would ensure the downtown has ample parking, which would benefit local businesses and boost the town’s economy.

But questions were raised about whether the cost was too high and how much would then need to be spent to renovate the lot.

The lot would be a “huge asset to the town and to the businesses,’’ Town Manager James McGrail has said. 

He encouraged the public to look at the purchase as a “big picture’’ investment that would be a “critical component’’ to the town center.

“This allows our businesses to be successful,’’ he said.

Select Board members Nathan Demers and Neil Rosenthal agreed.

For the downtown to be an “economic driver’’ in town, Demers said, “we need places for people to park to go to the businesses.’’

Rosenthal expressed concern about what development might go into the area where the lot is located if the town rejects the proposal. 

“Not to do this would risk changing downtown Middleboro forever,’’ Rosenthal said, “in a way that might not be beneficial to the nature of the downtown that we are all familiar with.’’

Select Board member Brian Giovanoni, who cast the sole vote against the proposal, questioned making decisions based on what might happen otherwise.

He also said that although the Select Board approved a $750,000 purchase price during private discussions, the agreement also could cost the town an additional $75,000 in various expenses, including appraisal costs and attorney fees.

“That’s not a negotiation,’’ he said. “That’s called caving.’’

Rosenthal noted that the ultimate decision would be made by voters. “Town Meeting will have the last word,’’ he said.