At the Monday, November 21 Selectmen’s meeting, a presentation and discussion on future building needs for Town Hall Offices, Public Safety and Public Works will take place beginning at 7pm. The effort is part of our ongoing work to map out the infrastructure needs of the Town and prioritizing these needs with a reasonable funding plan.
Monday's discussion will begin with an assessment of different sites and options for renovating or building new facilities at the various sites. Following the presentation, the public will have an opportunity to express preferences for the various options. With the feedback in hand, the consultants assisting us with this effort will finalize their report and recommendations, which may include seeking voter approval for the top priority project at next April’s Annual Town Meeting.
Both Town Hall and the DPW Garage off Pleasant Street are nearly 50 years old. These buildings are showing their age and do not serve well the changing demands that have been placed on them. The DPW Garage sits in the middle of a residential area, practically in the backyards of many homes. Should we renovate and add needed space to this existing facility? Or should we relocate, building a new headquarters at the existing compost site or out at the water treatment plant near the transfer station? If we were to relocate, what would be the best use of the existing DPW site off Pleasant Street – expansion for the nearly full cemetery? An affordable housing project? New playfields? A new Public Safety complex for both police and fire? Some combination of the above?
Town Hall continues to serve as the home for the Police Department as well as most other Departments. The current Police Station does not meet a long list of today’s standards, from inadequate locker space for male and female officers to outdated jail cells, and from a lack of private interview space to insufficient garage space for our police cruisers.
Town Hall lacks a modern HVAC system. We rely on electric heat during the winter and window AC units for cooling in the summer. Both are very inefficient, driving up our electric bill. The building lacks adequate meeting space. The Parks and Recreation Department Office doubles as a small meeting room. The Harbormaster’s office is a former storage closet, and the Council on Aging has no space for the wide range of programming it provides. Finding space in town is a constant effort. The storage area for all of the required town documents we must keep is at capacity and, while we have moved to put documents on microfilm, there is still insufficient space.
Similar to the effort underway to assess what is the best plan for our elementary school, we need to be crafting a plan that ensures we have the facilities we need for town services to be delivered well into the future. Of course, the cost of all these needs must be mapped out and prioritized so as not to cause our property taxes to skyrocket. Clearly we will need to make choices both in scope and in timing. We continue the process for assessing how to do this at the meeting planned for Monday night. Your input is encouraged and appreciated.