|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM – The Building Feasibility Committee’s two subcommittees, which are studying the possibility of constructing a new senior center and police station, respectively, received their charge from the Board of Selectmen at its Jan. 27 meeting.
The one-page document was meant to act as clarification of the subcommittees’ roles in the feasibility study process.
“The feasibility study will create a framework (i.e. materials, method and timelines) to ensure that both projects are able to move forward simultaneously without the building projects competing with each other so that the town may realize both new facilities,” the charge reads.
In order to keep the process from becoming adversarial, one member from each subcommittee will be appointed to the other.
“At this stage we have to be mindful and understand that these are competing interests, but both worthy projects,” Selectman Robert Russell said.
With a limited number of dollars at the town’s disposal, identifying outside funding sources will be a key component to getting these projects off the ground, Selectman Robert Boilard said.
“A lot will revolve around grant funding and what we can get from the state,” he said. “We’ll have to take this day-by-day and see what becomes available.
Addressing specific responsibly, the charge states the Senior Center Building Sub-Committee will evaluate the options for relocating the center by determining the future programs and the space needs associated with those. It will look into the feasibility of renovating a property currently owned by the town, as well as leasing a facility or constructing a new building. Regionalization will also be explored.
Similarly, the Police Station Building Sub-Committee will determine the space needs for the Police Department and will also explore the aforementioned building options. Police Chief Roger Tucker told the selectmen that the possible regionalization of the Emergency 911 services would not have an affect on the study, as other regional dispatch operations, such as the Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communications Center in Devens, are housed in buildings separate from a station.
Tucker added that the Police Station Building Sub-Committee has already had one meeting, which included a tour of the current facility, and has two others planned for Feb. 3 and Feb. 17.
The Senior Center Building Committee has also met once and will schedule monthly meetings.
When asked about a timeline, which is not addressed in the charge, Russell said, “It’s too early to tell what our timeline would be. Certainly we can make ourselves available to you whenever you are ready.”
All parties agreed that the subcommittees would do their due diligence and come back to the board when it had something concrete to report.
Kevin Moriarty, a member of the Police Station Building Sub-Committee said, “Usually this is about a yearlong process.”
The board put off a discussion on the re-appointment of Tracey Plantier to the Open Space and Recreation Committee after Boilard raised questions regarding potential conflicts of interest.
Plantier is also a member of the Vision Action Team and an associate member of the Planning Board.
Boilard said he wanted to hold off on making any decision until the full board – James Thompson was not present at the meeting – was able to discuss the issue.
Russell also asked Town Administrator Robert Weitz to reflect on the topic and said it would be discussed at an upcoming meeting.
While originally scheduled to take place at the Jan. 27 meeting, a fiscal year 2015 budget presentation was postponed.
Weitz said the budget was nearly completed and the “finishing touches” were being applied. The presentation will be made at an upcoming meeting.
The board also set the date for the Annual Town Meeting and the Annual Town Election.
The Town Meeting will take place on May 12, followed by the election on May 17.
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