The Wellesley Board of Selectmen has approved the ground lease for 900 Worcester St., former site of the St. James the Great church. The next step is a Special Town Meeting on April 3. The Townsman asked Meghan Jop, Wellesley’s assistant executive director, to bring readers up to date on what’s been going on with the long process of transforming the vacamt site into the home of a new recreational complex.

Under the current proposal, what will be built inside and outside at the site?

Two NHL size hockey rinks, 10 lanes (25 yards) lengthwise to bulkhead, plus three lanes (25 yards) widthwise and a smaller (50′ x 25′) warm water teaching/therapy pool, an indoor 90′ x 150′ (suitable for 7v7 high school soccer) turf field, fitness area with physical therapy (4,800 sf) and strength and conditioning (6,600 sf). The facility will also have concessions.

What is the projected completion date?

The project completion date will be dependent on permitting, but the developer is anticipating a fall 2018 opening.

Who is the developer?

The development team is the Wellesley Sports Group, LLC. The team is led by Brian DeVellis. Brian is president of the Edge Sports Group located in Bedford, Mass. Additional information, including past projects , can be found at:

Who will have priority for use of the facility? What will the schedule look like Wellesley vs. other groups?

The schedules are in the Lease Exhibits and can be found at the same site:

What outside groups will be able to use it?

The project will be a commercial enterprise and any outside group will be able to use or rent available time at the facility.

Will Wellesley residents not connected with schools or teams be able to use the facilities? Can they sign up for a pool pass, for instance? Will there be a charge to them?

This is a commercial facility. The town under the terms of the lease will receive preferred ice and pool times for the high school, Dana Hall, Wellesley Youth Hockey, and Wellesley Swim Association at market rate costs.

In addition, Brian DeVellis told the Townsman, “We will have recreational public skating and open pool times throughout the week and weekends.”

DeVellis also said, “We are continuing to refine the pro forma and operating model … but the plan is to have available for Wellesley residents the purchase of yearly ‘memberships’ allowing use of the pool, turf, track and ice during open sessions with a discounted rate for seniors and military.

Will there be a charge for parking? How many parking places will there be?

To my knowledge, there will not be a charge for parking, and the final design has not been completed. Under the zoning proposed for the site, parking would be required at a rate of one space for every three spectator seats, but not less than one space per 1,000 square feet of floor area of buildings. The site currently consists of approximately 1,100 seats – so at present the site would be required to have 367 spaces.

How much rent will the town get from the lease? How will that money be used?

There is a lease payment schedule that can be found in the exhibits. All funds would be directed to the general fund.

What costs will the town incur?

The town will not incur costs for the construction of the facility.

Who will be responsible for maintenance?

The tfown is entering into a land lease and will not be responsible for the site, structure, or operation. The town is authorizing the developer to control, construct, and operate a facility for at least 50 years on the site.

What was the original cost to the town of buying the site, and how is that being paid off? What will be the final price, with interest?

The town appropriated $5,083,694 for the acquisition of the site and church demolition. The total spent to date is approximately $4,600,000. The remaining funds will be reallocated to another town project. The town has financed the cost with 30-year, level payment with an annual debt service of $295,000. The site also has an initial estimate of property taxes in the amount of $200,000 a year.

Once the facility is built, who will oversee it? Will the committee remain in place to ensure there are no problems?

The town is entering into a land lease with the developer. The facility will not be owned or operated by the town.

Have hours of operation been set?

The schedules indicate the hours of operation as 6 a.m. to midnight. This will require finalization in permitting.

What will Special Town Meeting be asked to do?

STM will be asked to authorize the selectmen to enter into the lease as drafted, to modify the zoning and zoning map to allow for the use and construction, and to authorize the School Committee to enter into agreements with the developer to use the ice and pool.

By Cathy Brauner | Wicked Local Wellesley