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Demolition is scheduled to begin next week at the former Belchertown State School property, marking another milestone in plans for construction of a $15 million, 83-unit assisted living facility.

Town and state officials, in a prepared release, praised the start of demolition and ongoing environmental work at the former state school.

"We are entering an exciting new chapter in the Belchertown community," state Sen. Eric P. Lesser said. "The demolition and clean-up of the site is an important step in the redevelopment of the State School property, which will serve as an engine of economic growth for the town and broader region."

Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield was hired under a $904,939 contract for the demolition, removal and disposal of six structures: the hospital building; three cottages; a trailer and a small barn; and tunnels, said Kelsey Abbruzzese, a spokeswoman for MassDevelopment, the state's development agency. The demolition will create space for the housing complex that will be built by Grantham Group LLC, a Boston-based developer.

The demolition contract includes the cost of cleaning up hazardous materials, Abbruzzese said. Asbestos had to be removed in advance of demolition.

In 2014, then-Gov. Deval Patrick ordered the release of $4 million in bond funds toward clean-up of the former state school campus. Demolition of additional buildings in the southern portion of the campus is planned, officials said.

MassDevelopment President/Chief Executive Officer Marty Jones said that cleaning up the southern portion of the campus "will encourage private investment and promote economic activity throughout the site."

Gary Brougham, Belchertown's town administer, said the demolition plans are "exciting news" and will provide development opportunities on a significant portion of the former state school property.

The clearing of structures aids the Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corp. in working with MassDevelopment, to pursue additional economic growth at the state school site, Brougham said.

The second phase of the state school property reuse plans will open up more development parcels for senior independent living, office space, and other businesses, officials said.

The Belchertown Planning Board formally approved the assisted living housing complex plans in March.

"Our objectives and goals since the inception of this project have always been to promote this Belchertown site, said state Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow.

Grantham Group applied last week for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, considered crucial for the project, Abbruzzese said.

Jonathan Spiegel, a member of the Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corp said the board expects the assisted living facility will provide good jobs and added tax revenue for the town and "and be the core of a future 'continuum of care' area within the campus."

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