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    Friday, June 09, 2017 00:00

Annual report describes ‘shocking conditions’ of town facilities

The CFAC committee isn’t mincing words. In a report released earlier this month, the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee described the condition of the town’s capital facilities as “shocking”.

The report is the result of a year of the committee assessing the various town facilities, including public safety buildings, library, town hall, and senior center. The overwhelming consensus is that most of the facilities are outmoded, overcrowded, and inappropriate.

Photos taken during the assessment and provided in the report reveal crowded office space and overflowing file cabinets. Some pictures, such as of the police station, reveal the jail cell is located right next to the women’s toilet. In the fire department, work spaces are combined, such as the “kitchen, conference room, and lounge”. At the town hall, documents and files piled high completely obstruct the view from the administrative assistant’s desk.

As the report points out, most of the town’s facilities are decades old and have not been altered to accommodate for growth. The fire and police buildings have been around since 1964, for example. At the town hall, the current space required if taking growth into consideration is 17,000 square feet. The town hall is currently 10,200 square feet. At the library, the report calls for 26,000 square feet in space. It currently is 14,000 square feet.

The report recommends entirely new facilities in some circumstances, and relocating in others. For example, the committee recommends a new library so that the old one can be repurposed for other use, possibly to add office space for town hall use. It calls for a complete overhaul of the public safety buildings, such as police and fire, and proposes a recreational space be built to allow for leisure activities and to accommodate meetings, of which there is competition for in town.

The report charts a path for significant improvements in the town’s capital facilities over the next 10-20 years. In order of importance it asks for a new library, followed by public safety buildings, followed by repurposing and maintenance of existing buildings sometime near 2028. None of the items on the CFAC’s ‘wish list’ will be on the upcoming town meeting, as some have mistakenly believed.

The committee will be gauging the public’s feelings towards any changes during a series of forums that will be coming in the next months. If there is positive reception, the items will move forward to the next phase, which could include hiring a consulting and ultimately bringing them before a town meeting for a vote.

The first one will take place at the Merritt Center at 7pm on May 4th. The next one will be on June 8th at 7pm at the Merritt Center as well.

The full report is available on the town website for public viewing.

By Melanie Higgins

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