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March 05. 2013 11:18PM

Chester College redevelopment to be considered


Selectmen are holding a public input session on the future of the Chester College property this Saturday. (ADAM SWIFT PHOTO)
CHESTER - The town of Chester is moving forward with the possible redevelopment of the 70-plus acre Chester College property near the center of town.

Selectmen recently selected the Better Future Alliance (BFA) of Concord to look at possible reuses for the college site and the buildings on the property, and scheduled a second public input session for Saturday, March 9.

The small liberal arts college closed its doors last May after it was unable to resolve its financial difficulties.

Early this year, selectmen held an open discussion with members of the community to see what direction the town might want to take with the property. About 60 residents showed up for the meeting, and the great majority of them expressed some interest in having the town explore ways it could develop the college property.

After hearing from the residents, the selectmen moved forward with identifying possible re-uses of the site.

"The Better Future Alliance has extensive experience in community redevelopment with a proven approach that helps to ensure the success of community-based projects" said Stephen Landau, chairman of the selectmen. "They will be tasked with conducting a comprehensive opportunity assessment that will include identifying various options for the town."

BFA managing member Stuart Arnett proposed the Saturday public input session to help get the pulse of the Chester community.

"We want to hear from the community before anything else," said Arnett. "It will drive our thinking about acceptable options that we present later to the town."

Arnett said the process is designed to have recommendations to the town for the May Town Meeting, should the town decide to move further with any actions regarding the property.

The public input session is scheduled for Saturday, March 9, at Stevens Memorial Hall, 1 Chester St., from 1 to 4 p.m.

"This is an opportunity for local residents and others to speak and provide their thoughts and suggestions for the optimum strategies in determining what should happen to the former Chester College site," said Landau.

Anyone looking for further information on the meeting can contact the selectmen's office at 887-4979 or Arnett at 396-6929.

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