Swampscott is fishing for $50,000

May 9, 2017

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Officials are hoping for a $50,000 grant for the Swampscott Fish House.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Town officials hope a historic preservation restriction placed on the Swampscott Fish House, if approved by Town Meeting next week, will land them a $50,000 grant for renovations.

“We’ve applied for a grant that would provide funding for doing some repairs on the Fish House,” said Naomi Dreeben, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen. “In order to get that grant, we have to have this designation.”

Dreeben said the designation is a formal way of showing that the town intends to preserve the building, located at 391 Humphrey St., in a historically appropriate manner.

Gino Cresta, assistant town administrator and department of public works director, said in a phone interview that the Fish House is already on the Massachusetts Historic Register, but the article up for approval at Town Meeting on May 15 adds a historical preservation restriction to the building. He said that puts more protection, and exterior work done on the building would require Massachusetts Historical Commission permission.

Cresta said the town has already applied for the $50,000 Mass Historical grant for renovations to the Fish House, and as long as the article passes, the town would still be eligible for it.

“Without this approval, this grant is dead in the water,” Cresta said at a prior Board of Selectmen meeting.

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said the Fish House has an incredible legacy. Getting funding from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and working with the commission to establish an existing preservation for the building is ultimately a very positive thing for Swampscott, he added.

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Cresta said there are two primary provisions of the perpetual agreement up for Town Meeting approval.

“The first provision assures the MHC (Massachusetts Historical Commission) that the building and site will be adequately maintained in perpetuity, while the second provision requires that any proposed substantial alteration to the building interior, exterior or surrounding property be presented to the MHC prior to the start of construction in the form of an alteration request for review and prior approval,” Cresta wrote in an email. “Routine maintenance would not trigger an MHC review.”

The total renovations are estimated at $95,000. In May 2016, Town Meeting appropriated funds to do the work on Fish House, but the grant would allow the town to do additional work, Cresta said.

Renovations will include new windows and a new asphalt roof with a rubber roof membrane, painting the building, repairing the widow’s walk railing, a new balcony railing, a new roof hatch, and a new interior ladder with a cage, Cresta said.

Cresta said some renovations were done on the building 12 years ago, which included new windows and doors, and painting the building. He said a new roof was installed 20 years ago.

“There’s a lot of damage to the building,” Cresta said. “The renovations that we did 12 years ago are starting to deteriorate because of the result of the saltwater and the ocean.”

If the article is approved at Town Meeting, Cresta said the town is hoping to hear back from the grant by the end of June, and he would hope to put the project out to bid shortly after. He said the contractors have to be certified to work on historical buildings.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.