With voter approval of using Community Preservation Funds, Town Hall is getting a fresh coat of badly needed paint. It is being washed, primed and painted with two coats of finish paint. Rotted window sills are being replaced as well. All in all the new look will be a significant improvement to what we have had.
This is just one more example of the concerted efforts underway to make sure we are taking care of our capital assets. On a bigger scale, the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen met jointly last week to hear preliminary thoughts on the future of all of our town buildings and space needs for municipal operations. We have hired a consultant to assist with this initial assessment. This work will become part of the new, town-wide master plan being crafted.
It was no surprise to anyone when the consultants recommended that the top priority for facility improvements be the DPW garage. The old garage off of Pleasant Street has served the town for decades and is well past its useful life. An improved facility would ideally house both office space and sufficient garage space to have all personnel and equipment in one location. One idea suggested was the possibility of relocating the DPW operations to the water treatment plant. The plant has a good amount of office and meeting space which is currently underutilized and there is ample room for the construction of a new garage and salt storage shed. Special attention would have to be paid to ensure the new construction had fail save containment systems to protect the watershed from unwanted runoff but today’s codes require this in any location.
Next on the consultant’s priority list is a new police station. The late ‘60’s era station from which we continue to operate fails to meet today’s standards. Do we think about expanding Town Hall to accommodate the needed upgrades? Does it make more sense to build a new station at the old DPW garage site if it moves? Or does the old burn dump site have merit as a new location? Finally, what about expansion room for a public safety complex that ultimately could house both fire and police?
Town Hall is the third priority. Of course, the decisions that are made regarding the DPW and the Police facilities will have an impact on what happens at Town Hall. Could there be sufficient room to house a senior center at Town Hall? Or could a portion of Memorial School be repurposed for a combined Senior Center and Park and Recreation needs if a new elementary school is constructed?
We are at the early stages of charting a course forward for our facility needs. It is not surprising that facilities that are decades old need upgrades and we need to think strategically as to what makes sense for the next 50 plus years. Have ideas on what makes the most sense? I would enjoy hearing about them.
A reminder: Election Day is November 8. In addition to voting then, you have the option of getting an absentee ballot, or - new this year - voting early at Town Hall starting October 24. Contact the Town Clerk's office for more information.