By Alex Malm
The Town Council heard a proposal from Director of Public Works and Municipal Facilities, Dave Wholley, during the Aug. 14 meeting about a proposal to allocate American Rescue Plan Funds to conduct a public works facility master plan feasibility study.
Wholley explained that earlier this year he did a presentation to the Town Council about the lack of facilities in town for DPW and the challenges that comes with it as they try to serve the community as best as possible.
He said as part of the study they would also be looking to see if there is another location in town for a new facility one day, which could also help address other needs that departments have when it comes to space.
Wholley explained to the Town Council that the plan was to bring in Weston & Sampson to conduct the study.
Michael Richard from Weston & Sampson said their group specializes in public works facilities.
“We’ve done over 150 of them predominantly in the New England area,” Richard said.
He stated that they have 35 staff members dedicated to it.
“It’s just what we do,” Richard said.
It was explained by Richard that the first step in the process would be programing/ needs assessments.
“This is the first step in the process,” Richard said.
He noted that it’s arguably the most important step in the process and its the foundation of what they are going to build off of.
As part of the process, Richard said they would interview staff to try to understand the operations of the department.
Richard explained that they would also do an assessment of what each space would need.
Another aspect they would be looking at is a site analysis, where they determine if there may be any issues with things like zoning or how traffic would be impacted.
From there, they would come up with different concepts and would have meetings with the town to determine what makes the most sense.
“What we will walk away with is what is the preferred concept for the town,” Richard said.
Richard stated that when they eventually come up with costs, it would be not just for the building, but costs in the future as well.
He said they want to make sure what they propose to build makes sense for the present, as well as long term.
“We want to make sure that we get it right,” Richard said.
Richard added they expect for the project to take about four months, but it could be expedited or it could take longer depending on the pace the town moves in.
“It really moves at the town pace,” Richard said.
The Town Council ultimately approved allocating $64,500 in ARPA funds for the study to be done.
Earlier this summer, Wholley suggested that the town might want to look at relocating the Drop Off Center to where the existing DPW facility is located and move the DPW operation closer to the center of town. The recently purchased land next to the Police Deprtment was suggested.