Officials, Residents Celebrate Shovel Shop Groundbreaking

Saving history was an important theme Friday morning.


Board of Selectmen Chair Colleen Corona summed up what many were thinking Friday morning inside the Ames Shovel Works "Long Shop."

"Oh my gosh," she said. "Look at this building. Look at the inside of this building."

Corona was referring to the historic nature of the building at the Ames Shovel Works groundbreaking ceremony.

Her sentiments were repeated by the many state and local officials who spoke at the ceremony, all of whom celebrated the public/private partnership to save the buildings and develop 113 historically preserved housing units.

The project included a a $4.35 million loan to Beacon Communities LLC from Community Preservation Act funds, which was voted by the town in 2010 to save the shops from being transformed into 182 affordable housing units by property owners George and Robert Turner.

"[This community] decided to make the right choice rather than simply roll over and accept the easy path," Master of Ceremonies Gregory Galer, of the Easton Historical Commission said.

David Ames said his family was greatful for the work that many residents put in.

"It's been immensely gratifying to our family to have a role with the Friends of the Shovel Works," he said.

The historical significance of the Shovel Shops was touted by Historical Commission Chair Melanie Deware, who read a passage from a 1857 edition of the New England Farmer, which detailed the creation of shovels in North Easton.

One shovel was made every 15 seconds and 750,000 were made a year.

"There was definitely a lot of stuff going on here and there will be a lot more in the future, thanks to everyone here today," she said.

The moving parts and the "extremely complicated" process to finance and organize the project were highlighted by Beacon Communities CEO Howard Cohen, Massachusetts Housing Partnership Executive Director Clark Ziegler and Bank of America's Sindy Spivak.

State Senator Brian Joyce pointed to the Shovel Shops as an example of a solid Easton government.

"It is the best governed of the 10 towns that I have the pleasure of representing," he said.

Like Joyce, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki praised Easton.

He said the project was a good example of state and local governments working together.

He also praised Easton for it's ability to bring new housing to the town.

"You in Easton have created an example where bringing new housing into a community is making it stronger and better," he said.

The entire project, which began in April, is slated to take approximately 18 months. 70 percent of the units will be market priced and 30 percent will be affordable.




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