Although the town voted to fund a $40,000 conceptual design study for improving the Department of Public Works buildings at Town Meeting in June of last year, Town Hall has not yet published a request for proposals. That’s finally about to change.
The study will include design options and priorities for renovating or replacing the DPW garage, office area, mechanic’s bay, and pole barn, along with a rough estimate for those options. The Capital Planning and Investment Committee’s reason for recommending the study was that the buildings are old, not structurally sound, drafty, and energy inefficient in the winter. The study will be funded from the Capital Stabilization and Investment Fund.
At the Feb. 16 Select Board meeting, Assistant Town Administrator Marie Sobalvarro told the members she had not yet written the request because, given discussions that took place after Town Meeting positing use of a portion of the public works site for a new fire station, she was waiting for them to clarify their intentions.
Those discussions were initiated when the Permanent Building Committee met in July 2020 to discuss the DPW building design study, and it asked the board to consider looking into a site study for DPW buildings and a new fire station. At that time, the future of the Transfer Station was uncertain because of concerns over higher hauling and recycling costs. Sobalvarro said that has since been settled, at least for fiscal 2022. Town Administrator Tim Bragan told the Finance Committee at its Feb. 10 meeting that recycled paper is once again a commodity, which, along with the elimination of free trash bags for seniors, will lower Transfer Station expenses more than enough to cover higher hauling costs for the next fiscal year.
Select Board Chair Alice von Loesecke expressed doubt that there would be enough space for a fire station on the parcel should the Transfer Station remain open. She and member Lucy Wallace agreed that closing the Transfer Station and building a fire station in its place would be a big decision. Von Loesecke added there would be no advantage to considering that now, since there would be little shared functionality and no useful connection between a fire station and DPW buildings. Board members agreed the study should focus on just the DPW buildings, as CPIC originally intended when it wrote the 2020 warrant article.