BOS votes on Fire Station, public safety complex, and sidewalk commitee

Above: Much of selectmen’s business this week pertained to the dilapidated Fire Station. (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

Last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting was heavily focused on town infrastructure.

Selectmen filled out committees for a potential new public safety complex and prioritizing sidewalk projects in town.They also awarded close to $90,000 in design and construction contracts.

Much of that cost was acknowledged as possibly redundant, but also deemed necessary.

Fire Station band-aid

Selectmen awarded a $64,700 contract to replace the Fire Station roof. (This followed awarding a contract, which could lead to gutting the current station in a few years. More on that below.)

The expense was $54,600 more than originally planned for the work this year. Town Administrator Mark Purple explained that the initial plan was to design the roof this year and build it the next.

Having reimbursed more than $220,000 in repair costs from ice dams last winter, the insurance company frowned on that plan. Purple said if more damage was incurred by putting off the new roof, insurance would reimburse but premiums would go up.

Chair John Rooney asked for confirmation that they needed to spend on what may be a temporary facility. “That’s an emphatic yes,” was the response of Facilities Head John Parent. He said it would be “very unreasonable” to ask firefighters to repeat living in last winter’s conditions.

Having toured the station last year, Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf lamented, “we don’t have an alternative here.”

Prior to the meeting, facilities received approval from the Advisory Committee to transfer the additional dollars from the Town’s reserve fund.

Future Public Safety Complex

The board approved the new charge expanding the Public Safety Study Committee. (You can read that here.) They then approved adding the following members: 

  • Jason Malinowski for his combined experience in finance (CPA with MS in accounting) and as a Per Diem EMT for the Boxborough Fire Department
  • Brennan Barry as a Waltham firefighter
  • Peter Goodney as a Westborough police officer

They also awarded $25,000 to a contractor for the feasibility and design of a new public safety complex. Options on the table still include the site of the current stations or the Transfer Station.

Sidewalk Committee debate and appointments

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf, raising her past objection to the committee, suggested changing the committee from Ad Hoc to a full committee.

The Ad Hoc committee has a 90 day charge, with two citizens-at-large and several representatives from other committees and town departments.

Phaneuf still preferred the work stay with the Public Works Planning Board. Since that recommendation failed at a past meeting, she advised lengthening the term to a year and opening the committee to more residents.

Selectmen Paul Cimino and Brian Shea disagreed. Cimino opined that if the work couldn’t be done in about 90 days, then he would rather not have a committee. He said he wanted to avoid too much bureaucracy.

Rooney preferred to move ahaead as advertised.

Only one applicant for the two citizen-at-large spots attended, Robert Bezokas, a Public Work Planning Board member who was interviewed at the previous BOS meeting. Applicant Mark Ford had reached out to Purple about his inability to attend that night’s meeting. Purple coordinated an interview by Shea.

Shea advocated for Ford based on his experience engineering sidewalk designs for VHB.

Phaneuf was disappointed that only Shea had the opportunity to question Ford. She voiced concern about a potential conflict with VHB should they pursue a contract to design sidewalks recommended by the committee. (VHB is the engineering design firm under contract for the Main Street design project.)

Cimino shared Phaneuf’s concern but suggested that may mean that VHB would have to be disqualified from bidding.

Purple had expected applicant Jane Goring to show. He said that Goring had spearheaded a petition campaign for Parkerville sidewalks. With Goring and another applicant not available for questioning, the board appointed Ford (3-1) and Bezokas (4-0) to the committee.

The board also appointed town representatives recommended by the Council of the Aging (Chair Bill Harrington), Recreation (Director Doreen Ferguson), Public Works Planning Board (Sue Baust), public safety (Fire Chief Joe Mauro) and the schools (Finn and Woodward Principal James Randall) as members.

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