ARLINGTON, MA-The Board of Selectmen of this town have signed a purchase and sale agreement for $7.1 million with the Lahey Clinic and Advantage Health to acquire an 18-acre parcel here on the site of the former Symmes Hospital.

“Voters have said we want this to happen,” Alan McClennen, Jr., director of planning and community development for the town, tells McLennen points to the fact that by a margin of more than two to one voters here passed a debt exclusion authorization, which enables the costs of the acquisition of this property to be outside of the town budget. While Arlington is in the process of determining the best way to reuse the tract, as part of the debt exclusion campaign 50% of the site will remain as open space and there will also be an effort to expand the medical presence. The Lahey Clinic signed a ten-year lease for 25,000-sf in the hospital building as part of the agreement with the town but McClennen says that the town wants to determine other medical uses for the site. The hospital provides 160,000-sf of space.

The town will also put some housing–with an affordable housing component–on the site although it is unclear yet how many units will be involved. McClennen adds that the town has also pledged to make these decisions in an open planning process. McLennan acknowledges that $7.1 million “seems like a lot but it is small if it gives us the opportunity to control and direct this important piece of land. This is a long-range planning effort.”

The decision to acquire the site must be made by a town meeting vote, which will take place in three weeks. Because a bond issue is involved, the vote requires a two-thirds majority.

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