Representatives from Lykan Bioscience appeared before the Select Board on Tuesday night to share plans for the expansion of the company’s South Street headquarters and ask for discussions to start on a new tax increment financing agreement (TIF) with the town. The Select Board unanimously supported having town officials start negotiations.
Lykan, a cell therapy manufacturer, was founded in 2019 and opened its South Street facility last year. Now the organization is seeking to grow.
“Cell therapy is really at the forefront of biotechnology today. It is an exploding area of the industry, and the demand that we’re seeing is really driving us to be here tonight,” said Patrick Lucey, Lykan’s president and CEO. “We’re seeing significant growth.”
After considering geographic expansion, including in Europe, company officials decided expanding its base in Hopkinton would make sense, especially with four international airports within 100 miles.
“We think critical mass here in Hopkinton is of value to the organization,” Lucey said.
Lykan leases and occupies 97 South Street. Under its plan, two buildings at 103-109 South Street would be demolished and replaced by a 112,141-square foot facility with two floors.
Lucey said Lykan will spend about $110 million on the new building.
The expansion would create about 125 new, permanent full-time jobs over a five-year period in a variety of positions with competitive salaries and benefits, Lucey said.
Lucey added that Lykan is in full compliance with its current 10-year TIF agreement, investing far more money than promised and ahead of its anticipated hiring pace.
“The whole Lykan corporation has come in and done everything they’ve promised they’d do,” Select Board Member Brendan Tedstone said, calling the company “a wonderful partner” for the town.
Lykan’s plan is to get the TIF on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting in May, as it requires approval from town residents.
Minor fixes for West Main traffic issue
The town made some minor inroads in its attempt to address the safety concerns on West Main Street in front of Cumberland Farms.
The area has long been a problem spot, primarily from people attempting to turn left out of Cumberland Farms to head west. This requires crossing two lanes of traffic, and often times a driver in the right lane stops to allow an individual to exit while a car continues through the left lane, leading to a collision.
“It is our hottest area for accidents,” said Police Chief Joseph Bennett, although he clarified that he was referring to the area from the Interstate 495 ramps to the new Dunkin’ at the corner of West Main and Lumber Street Extension. “Most of them are non-injury accidents,” he added.
Following negotiations with the owner of Cumberland Farms, an agreement was reached in which the eastern driveway (nearer the center of town) will be restricted to exit only, and additional signage will be added at both driveways.
It was noted that once the Mobil gas station on the opposite side of the street reopens (an expanded facility is under construction), it will create more turning patterns.
Department of Public Works Director John Westerling said the town had two engineering firms look at the situation, but no solutions were found — at least none that had a chance to get the OK from the Cumberland Farms owner.
“We want to work with the businesses so that we’re not discouraging customers and we’re not driving customers away,” Westerling said. “[Cumberland Farms has] agreed to making that easterly driveway exit only, which is probably the best that we can hope for at this point.”
COVID cases on rise
In his update to the Select Board, Health Director Shaun McAuliffe said COVID-19 cases have been rising in town.
“We’ve had a surge in cases since the beginning of November,” he said, noting the average per week has risen from about 10 to approximately 40. A big part of the surge can be attributed to a super-spreader event at Elmwood School that affected about 60 people and forced the closure of a classroom.
McAuliffe said the town had a big turnout for Friday’s age 5-11 vaccination clinic and said he expects that about 82-84 percent of Hopkinton children in that category will be fully vaccinated by the end of the week.
He is encouraging those who are eligible for booster shots to get them, and said he is working with health departments in Ashland, Westborough, Southborough. Northborough and Holliston to schedule a grant-funded regional vaccination clinic to provide boosters as well as pediatric vaccinations.
He stressed that anyone showing COVID symptoms, which can be similar to allergy symptoms, should play it safe and stay home.
New library director introduced
Nanci Hill was unanimously approved as the new library director.
Hill most recently served as library director of the M.G. Parker Memorial Library in Dracut. She also worked as library director at Boxford Town Library. Previous experience included stints at libraries in Methuen, Lexington and Wakefield.
“I have worked in public libraries for over 20 years,” Hill said. “I started in school libraries and decided that I wanted to move into public libraries, so I went and got my master’s in library science in order to do that. I think that one of the unique things about me is I’ve worked in pretty much every department in the library. I worked my way up from young adult services to adult services, I became assistant director, I’ve been the director.”
Added Hill: “I’m excited about what’s happening in libraries today, about the things that we’ve learned about how we can serve people after COVID. I think that there are new and exciting things on the horizon. I’m excited to be in Hopkinton. I’m really looking forward primarily to getting out more into the community. That’s something that your residents are looking for. I’m excited to be able to team up with businesses and nonprofits in the town and working with other town departments.”
Board pays tribute to Duffy, D’Urso
Tedstone called attention to the passing of Mary Jo Duffy, who lived in Hopkinton since 1959 and raised 12 children here.
“She was Dr. [John] Duffy’s wife. She had 2,000 kids, I think,” Tedstone joked. “A wonderful, wonderful person. … Just a heck of a woman. One of these longtime townie people that when we lose them we don’t get back, and we lose some history and we lose a lot of stories and identity for the town. She will be missed. She was a wonderful person.”
Mary Jo LaFreniere said she and Duffy had a “running joke about being the two Mary Jos in town.”
“She had a great sense of humor,” LaFreniere said. “She was wonderful. Very gracious.”
The board also saluted Frank D’Urso, a former Planning Board member who was an active volunteer in town. He passed away late last month.
“He’ll be sorely missed,” said Irfan Nasrullah.
“Town Meeting is not going to be the same without him,” Amy Ritterbusch said.
Misc.: Rutter named town moderator
Ellen Rutter was unanimously voted to serve as town moderator until the Town Election next May. She replaces Tom Garabedian, who recently announced that he was stepping down from the elected position.
Rutter had served as deputy town moderator under Garabedian.
Board Member Muriel Kramer noted that Rutter becomes the town’s first female town moderator. …
Jennifer Reed and Erica Lawrence were appointed to the Youth Commission to terms that expire June 30, 2023.
David Dollenmayer was appointed to the Board of Library Trustees until next May’s Town Election. …
The board unanimously approved providing The Vin Bin, a liquor store located in Hopkinton Square on West Main Street, with an all-alcohol license, upgrading its current beer and wine license. The license became available due to the increase in population in town as reflected on the 2020 census.
The board also approved the annual Section 12 alcohol license renewal for the Hopkinton Tennis and Swim Club, which has yet to be built. The facility is targeted for 27 Lumber Street. …
Auto sales licenses were renewed for WSAB Enterprise (32 East Main Street) and Whitehall Auto Sales (34R Spring Street). …
The board voted unanimously to support the opioid national settlement agreement, which means Hopkinton will be included in the settlement and eventually can begin using funds to aid in the treatment of those with addiction issues.