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Harvard seeks perpetual lease to pay off park

HARVARD – The city could pay off its Milky Way Park land loan and turn its attention to improving the space sooner than expected.

The City Council on Tuesday authorized Mayor Jay Nolan to negotiate and execute a perpetual lease with Landmark Dividend for property on Harvard Hills Road. Verizon currently leases the property from the city.

Under the agreement, Landmark would take over the Verizon lease, which has two years remaining, in exchange for paying the city a lump sum of $322,000. That money would allow the city to pay off its Milky Way Park loan.

Nolan said Landmark would continue to control the lease with Verizon if the company chooses to renew in two years. If they opted not to renew the lease, Landmark might retain the right to find a new lessee.

“It would be theirs to lease out if they could right away,” Nolan said. “But we’re putting some language in there to protect us from that.”

The deal, which would save Harvard an estimated $60,000 in interest, would create a $115,000 surplus for the city after paying off the park.

“The biggest thing is paying the note off,” he said. “Getting some debt out of the way.”

The surplus would go toward improvements to the 57-acre park, which the city bought with the help of state grants to cover about half the cost.

A tentatively planned entrance and exit to the park from Ratzlaff Street would cost about $70,000, Nolan said.

He added that the prospect of upfront, guaranteed money is attractive to the city rather than getting paid on a monthly basis by Verizon.

“[Residents] can utilize this piece of property 10 to 12 years ahead of where we thought we’d be,” Nolan said. “We wouldn’t have money for improvements if we were still paying on the land.”

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