Amid redevelopment doubts, Montague Selectboard opposes delaying Farren demolition

  • The former Farren Care Center in Montague. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Both the newer and original wings of the former Farren Care Center in Montague. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2022 12:05:56 PM
Modified: 11/8/2022 12:05:29 PM

MONTAGUE — Expressing doubts over the feasibility of finding someone interested in redeveloping the former Farren Care Center, the Selectboard voted unanimously on Monday to recommend the Historical Commission not delay the building’s demolition.

The Farren is slated to be the topic of a demolition delay bylaw hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 16. Following input from town officials and the public, the Historical Commission is expected to vote on whether to enact the bylaw relative to the former long-term care facility on Montague City Road.

The bylaw serves to “preserve and protect, through advance notice of their proposed demolition, significant buildings,” and to “encourage owners of preferably preserved significant buildings to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase and to preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than demolish them.” If enacted, the bylaw could delay demolition for up to one year.

“During that time, the owner has the opportunity to find another buyer, to find money to save from tax credits,” Historical Commission member Chris Sawyer-Lauçanno said previously. “However, after that year, if no progress has been made in that regard, then in most cases, the demo delay expires and the building inspector is free to go ahead and issue a demolition permit.”

The former long-term care facility closed in April 2021. Trinity Health of New England, the Farren’s parent company, has maintained that the building is too old for its purposes and would be too expensive to update to modern standards. The company also deemed the facility unfit for preservation in a condition assessment that representatives declined to share with the town. The company issued a demolition recommendation in November 2021 and affirmed its decision in April, but no demolition permit had been filed with the Building Department until Oct. 12.

Discussing the situation on Monday, Selectboard members opposed invoking the demolition delay bylaw due to feeling like efforts to find a developer would be futile. Previously, the board has noted that Trinity Health lacks interest in developing the property or selling it to a developer.

“I just don’t think that a delay is going to find us a developer,” Selectboard member Matt Lord commented. “I think if they were interested in finding a developer there, it would happen.”

“I’d like nothing more than to see it redeveloped, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” added Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz, who has been vocal of his wariness over preserving abandoned and underused buildings.

“I’m well aware that the town can’t afford to take on any more projects,” said Selectboard Vice Chair Chris Boutwell, echoing Kuklewicz’s hesitation. “The town has too many buildings now.”

The demolition delay bylaw public hearing will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. inside Town Hall and over Zoom at At this hearing, at least one expression of development interest is expected to be addressed: that of Brattleboro-based consulting firm Stevens & Associates.

In an October email to the Historical Commission, Leyden resident and Farren preservation advocate Jerry Lund cited recent discussions with firm President Robert Stevens. Lund said that during communications between the two, Stevens said he was “quite excited about the possible housing (both market rate and affordable) and the historical restoration potential” of the Farren “if a partner could be found” to assist.

The Selectboard did not address Lund’s email during its Monday meeting.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or


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