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Votes

Which Site for Arts Center

No public decision to be made until negotiations solidified

While the announcement several weeks ago that the number of sites for a cultural arts center in the Town of Herndon had been reduced from 10 to three was music to the ears of the arts committee, it disappointed Town Councilman Dennis Husch.

"I’m disappointed that we made those three sites public," said Husch, an on-the-record supporter of the concept of an arts center. "I wish we would have kept the public list at 10 and get a confidential memo from the arts committee with their three choices," he said, not wanting to damage negotiating efforts.

Scott Wilson of the Boston architectural firm Wilson Butler Lodge Inc. presented the three sites in a public forum. In no particular order, the three sites are the land occupied by the Moose Lodge, Ironworks and Martin Auto Body, the municipal parking lot off Vine Street and the Hands, Inc. property owned by Joe Wyzkoski.

"If this is the chosen site, I would be interested in making a good business decision to relocate," said Wyzkoski, owner of the just under an acre sized piece of property for six years and owner of the business for 11 to 12 years. "This property will easily sustain Phase I [of the arts center]. What parcel is big enough for Phase I and II together — none — that’s an easy answer," he said rhetorically.

"This site was selected at the first charrette at least 10 years ago — a mock up with the words ‘arts center’ on the project. This was the best spot for the cultural arts center then – still is. I agreed then – still do. Three years ago I told them to buy this property – I’d be their best tenant. Sure I would have to relocate, but they’re not going to break ground tomorrow. I’m not enthralled with moving again, but it’s a business decision. I’m not an unreasonable person to deal with. This site has the benefit of the [W. & OD] trail and the Town Green," said Wyzkoski, adding that "Wilson’s team visited for soil boring — how deep they can go, how much rock needs to be removed."

"THE COMMITTEE RECOGNIZES the probability that Phase II is not going to happen any time soon for a number of reasons — financial being one of them," said vice chair of the cultural arts committee Ellen Kaminsky of Herndon.

"But we didn’t want to be short sighted. We did want a site that could accommodate Phase I and II. That would kill two birds — provide for the arts center, formerly known as Phase I, and have surface parking if nothing else happens," she said.

Kaminsky said that money would not be spent on all three sites. After a site is selected, an environmental study will be conducted, pending negotiation with the owner. "Each site has pros and cons," she said.

"There will be no public decision until a handshake agreement is made with the property owner," said Husch.

"The Hands Inc. site would make the most sense, or the Moose Lodge," said Community Bank manager Mary Ann Cerick of Herndon. "But not the municipal parking lot. We don’t want to tear up any more parking sites," she said.

"The best place to rejuvenate the downtown is the municipal parking lot," said Sterling resident Beth Wiley, owner of Earth & Fire Pottery on Station Street. "The municipal parking lot is in the heart of downtown and near the new commerce building. The other sites are too much on the periphery," she said, but admitted that traffic would be a problem on event nights.