If the proposal was divisive, then the vote was decisive.
By a vote of 138 to 44, Lexington’s annual Town Meeting last night approved Article 34, a citizen’s petition to to allow for commercial redevelopment of the Dana Home and the adjacent property as a hotel and restaurant concept known as the Inn at Hastings Park.
After a long road to annual Town Meeting and a lengthy discussion when Article 34 finally hit the floor on Wednesday, May 9, it would have made sense for the proponent, Trisha Perez Kennealy, to be feeling relieved or vindicated. Instead, she said her team would be going right back to work.
“The work is only just begun,” Perez Kennealy, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 6, said after pulling herself away from huggers, hand-shakers and other manner of well-wishers. “We’re really excited to get this vote of confidence from the community. We look forward to continuing to work with members of the community and being Lexington’s innkeepers.”
Addressing local media after the meeting adjourned for the night around 11:15 p.m., Perez Kennealy said opportunities for community input did not end with the May 9 vote. “In order for us to be successful, there needs to be an ongoing conversation with the community,” she said.
Annual Town Meeting began on March 26, but last night’s session had easily the highest turnout of residents in the balconies of , but perhaps that was to be expected.
Members of town boards and Town Meeting on Wednesday said they received unprecedented input from residents regarding Article 34 and Perez Kennealy’s proposal to .
According to Wendy Manz, the Planning Board member who delivered her board’s favorable recommendation, this project – which has been discussed in some manner at public meetings since last summer – generated more than 500 letters and input from more than 1,000 residents.
The nay votes from the selectmen and Planning Board came from Selectman Peter Kelley and Planning Board Chairman Richard Canale, who both expressed support for the concept of an inn, but felt the Inn at Hastings Park proposal is far too intense for the site, located at the intersection of Mass Ave and Worthen Road.
Town Meeting members and residents who spoke against Article 34 echoed those concerns, and brought up recurring questions about parking, the Worthen Road entrance, trash pickup and deliveries, wetlands and neighborhood impact. Some among the opposition actually said they’d support an inn at that location, perhaps if paired with a restaurant in Lexington Center.
Folks speaking in favor of the proposal, however, painted the Inn at Hastings Park as a much needed amenity, which could be a place to brunch on Sundays, for visiting family members to stay and a potential economic windfall that could keep tourists in town.
“This is what sustainable development looks like,” said Chris Kluchman, a neighbor in favor who lives on Mass Ave and noted the adaptive reuse of a historic building that’s within walking distance of the town center and along the Battle Road.