Back in November, the Board of Selectmen endorsed a plan for a new one-story building to replace the existing police station. At a meeting last month they reversed course and requested that a plan to renovate the current building be developed in parallel.
“There seems to be a desire by the town to investigate an addition/renovation,” Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said.
But who exactly is going to develop the renovation plan remains a point of strong contention.
The Municipal Facilities Committee developed the plan for the new building, and they’d like to be the ones to develop a renovation/addition scheme. The problem is, they’re out of money.
Last year, Town Meeting appropriated $98K to develop a schematic design for an updated police station. Most of the funds were used to develop plans for the new one-story building. While there’s nothing left to pursue a renovation/addition plan, Municipal Facilities Committee member Brian Shea told selectmen they have an architect who is willing to donate time and “do what she can.”
The Historical Commission, meanwhile, has taken it upon themselves to develop a preliminary plan for renovating and adding on to the existing police station. They presented the plan to the public at a meeting in March. Because it’s a preservation project, the Historical Commission told selectmen they can apply for funds from the Community Preservation Committee to advance their plan.
So why can’t the Municipal Facilities Committee and the Historical Commission work together on a renovation/addition plan? In short, because they don’t trust each other.
“The motivations of our two groups are different,” Tom McCarthy told selectmen. McCarthy is a member of both the Municipal Facilities Committee and the Historical Commission.
“I’m not comfortable that the groups can work together,” Phaneuf said. “There’s a breakdown, a disconnect. I’m not sure the groups will meet in the middle.”
Historical Commission member Nancy Vargas, the architectural designer who developed the preliminary renovation/addition plan, said she was reluctant to hand her plan off to the Municipal Facilities Committee. “It’s incredibly unfair that our work will be passed off to a committee that has wanted no part of it.”
“They’re just going to butcher the plan because they don’t want it,” David Falconi, a member of the Historical Commission, said.
But selectmen said they need to figure out a way to move forward. “We’re going to have to find a way for people to play nicely together,” Chairman Bill Boland said.
Selectman Sal Giorlandino agreed. “I want what’s been said and done to be water under the bridge, and let’s just move forward. The overall goal is too critical for the town.”
The Selectmen indicated they wanted to have the addition/renovation plan complete in time for the fall town meeting. But how that happens is still anyone’s guess. Stay tuned.