COURTESY OF B’NAI B’RITH
An artist’s rendering of the Senior Residences at the Machon.
It’s easy to praise Swampscott’s approach to giving new life to the old Machon School. Town Meeting last May picked nonprofit B’nai B’rith to create the Senior Residences at the Machon. B’nai representatives unveiled plans to town residents featuring 38 one-bedroom units and a plan to add a third floor to the former school.
The Board of Selectmen will review and potentially vote on the plans on April 5 and move the building reuse project forward one more step.
Machon is moving ahead as the town continues to map out strategies and seek unity over the future of the Greenwood Avenue former middle school. The former police station also needs to begin moving on the path to reuse.
Under ideal circumstances, Machon’s redevelopment from the current planning stage to construction and the ribbon cutting will be a template for the town to follow in providing new uses for other vacant town properties.
Empty structures are a financial burden and liability for the town and a neighborhood nuisance. Conversely, Machon is an example of a project on its way to improving Swampscott. B’nai has drafted a forward-thinking renovation that includes residential parking and guest parking with housing affordability taken into consideration.
Some town residents, including several neighbors, envisioned the Machon property as open space enhancing the town’s park and recreation resources. But residents are, by all accounts, satisfied with the review and discussion process that preceded Town Meeting’s decision to approve Machon for redevelopment as senior housing.
The old school could eventually become home for town residents who once attended Machon. There is a perfect small town symmetry about a project that preserves a town landmark familiar to generations of former town children who, in their later years, elect to remain in Swampscott.
Providing affordable senior housing helps town families by allowing older residents who sell homes to stay in Swampscott. It also brings into town seniors who set their sights years ago on living in a beautiful community with an ocean view.
Town officials and residents should take pride in viewing Machon’s rebirth as a chance to inspire other communities to take public buildings past their prime and work with organizations like B’nai B’rith to give them new leases on life.