Some would like to move it to a prominent place in town where people can marvel at its vibrant hue and toothy grin. Others would like to see it tucked away at a playground so it can be enjoyed by children.
But they all agree on one thing: They don’t want the iconic orange dinosaur statue that watches over Route 1 in Saugus to go extinct.
As the parcel of land where the decades-old dinosaur stands readies for redevelopment, the fate of the creature hangs in the balance.
Fans of the 20-foot-tall landmark have rallied together and started a Facebook group dedicated to trying to preserve a piece of the town’s history.
“SAVE our Dinosaur” had more than 1,000 supporters as of Wednesday afternoon, with many members of the group calling for creative alternatives to tearing down the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lives at Route 1 Miniature Golf and Batting Cages .
“Why not ask for it to be donated to the town ... perhaps put it at one of our playgrounds?” one person wrote.
Michael Touchette, president of MT Realty in Lynnfield, and his business partner Michael Barsamian bought the 7.5 acres of land adjacent to the miniature golf course in 2013. Touchette said they wanted to incorporate the golf course property into their overall master plan, which calls for hotels, luxury apartments, and retail and meeting space.
The land is under agreement, he said, but he’s unsure about the dinosaur’s future.
“It’s up in the air with what’s going to happen to it. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that stuff when they close,” he said. “Obviously, it’s emotional for everybody, so we will see what happens.” He said he wasn’t opposed to keeping the statue in place.
Diana and Richard Fay have owned the 18-hole miniature golf course, which includes an ice cream stand, arcade, and batting cages, since 1979. The spot has been in Diana’s family for 57 years. The Fays would not comment on details about the sale or the dinosaur’s next move.
But Robert Luongo, economic development coordinator for the town of Saugus, said he didn’t see any roadblocks for the pending acquisition.
“There’s an agreement to purchase the property. I don’t think it will fall through. It’s a deal that will happen,” he said. “The price has been negotiated.”
Touchette is slated to meet with Saugus officials to discuss the project within weeks.
Luongo called the plans to clear away the course and batting cages to make way for new development representative of a changing landscape in Saugus.
In 2013, the nearby Hilltop Steakhouse, a popular destination to grab a savory steak with the family, shuttered its doors. When it closed, its herd of plastic cows outside went to pasture. The steakhouse was demolished this year.
“There were a lot of different types of roadside displays that were probably indicative of the 1950s and the 1960s,” Luongo said. “We are trying to move it beyond that era and go toward a new era along Route 1.”
As for the dinosaur?
People are roaring to keep it around.
“We are trying to work it out with the town to see what the best interest is,” Touchette said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.