As it grows, Kingston clings to its values

By Edward F. Maroney, Globe Correspondent, 12/22/2001

KINGSTON - Can a town grow quickly without changing its values? That's the question facing this community just north of Plymouth.


Incorporated: 1726
Area: 19.03 square miles
Population: 11,780
Distance from Boston: 23 miles
Median house price: $283,500
Tax rate: $14.03
Schools: One elementary, one inter- mediate, Silver Lake Regional junior high and high schools
Nearest hospital: Jordan Hospital, Plymouth

Last month's town meeting brought things to a boil. A plan to create a new village out of the sandpits that surround the MBTA commuter rail station, with housing at various income levels as well as commercial and retail space, was voted down.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]"To say that there were heated feelings on both sides of the issue is putting it mildly," said Town Moderator Frances B. Botelho-Hoeg.

Some said it was too much of a good thing, while others objected to increasing the volume of traffic.

"People got up one after the other to give the reasons they came here," said Ellen Scorzoni, sales consultant with Century 21 Hughes & Carey. "They said they wanted to be in a town with families with a mix of incomes, with good schools. It was a wonderful discussion around wanting to meet the needs of others."

Kingston's welcome mat is always out, said Botelho-Hoeg, who moved to the town in 1988. "This is my fifth year as moderator," she said. "I was very happy to have been elected to the School Committee prior to that. My husband is chairman of the Historical Commission. The town does welcome new people to come in and get involved."

Botelho-Hoeg said Kingston isn't sectioned off by income. "Certainly there are some multimillion-dollar homes," she said, "but for the most part, the community is very mixed."

In Kingston, house prices begin at about $130,000, Scorzoni said. There's everything from two mobile home parks for seniors to the high-end homes of Indian Pond Estates. The latter start at $600,000 and go up to $1.5 million.

"It's always been a stable market," Scorzoni said, "but the train has certainly put the town on the map." And Route 3 provides a direct connection to jobs in Boston and the suburbs along Route 128.

Kingston Bay and the Jones River have played mighty parts in the history of this 275-year-old community noted for its shipbuilding. The Jones River Historical Society works to protect the area, which includes the 1674 home of Major John Bradford, overlooking the river.

An antique house in the Jones River village is listed for $330,000. Built around 1850, it has eight rooms, with three bedrooms and two baths, "typical of the properties in that area," Scorzoni said. "They don't turn over much."

The town has three condominium complexes, but only one unit is on the market: a two-bedroom, two-bath for $136,000. Apartments are few.

A growth spurt in the old cottage colony district of Rocky Nook just north of Plymouth has been spurred by a town sewering project. "There are some very lovely homes down there," Scorzoni said. "Now they have the benefit of the sewer system and can add on and sell."

Houses right on the waterfront in Rocky Nook are going for $300,000 to $550,000, while those being built on very small lots nearby start at $309,000. Scorzoni has sold two 5,000-square-foot lots in the area, one for $55,000 and one for $72,000. Outside of Rocky Nook, the more standard buildable lots go for $125,000 to $150,000 or more, "if you can find them," she added.

The town has made strides in preserving land in the less-developed western section, including the 77-acre Hathaway Preserve. Pawtuxet Park in the southeast corner is 24 acres of rolling meadow that may one day see a community farm.

Commercial development accelerated with the opening of the Kingston Mall off Route 3, but an earlier business district around the former train station is showing signs of life, too.

"That's an area everybody would like to see fixed up," Botelho-Hoeg said of the shops clustered near the renovated depot, which is itself available for a new tenant. "Now that the sewers have gone in, we can concentrate on that. I think you'll start to see a real revitalization of that particular section."

Just up the hill from the tracks is the town's new library, not far from the wooded Evergreen Cemetery. Voters agreed recently to override Proposition 2 to build a town office building on the other side of the sprawling graveyard.

"I think the town is very much looking forward to holding onto its flavor as a town for families of varied incomes, so there's a healthy mix of people," Scorzoni said.

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 12/22/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company
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