Town efforts: Evaluating resources/needs; Pursuing aggregate electricity savings for community

Above: The Town is looking at eliminating excess buildings, lowering community members’ electric bills, and identifying needed gyms/fields. (images right to left from Susan Fitzgerald, flickr by Frank Budik, and Joao Melo)

There are two items out of last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting I still wanted to share. They are projects that Town Administrator Mark Purple is working on for the Town.

And yesterday, local media shared news of another Town project by the Recreaton Department.

The three projects cover: Identifying excess Town properties; pursuing a power supply aggregate for the community; and evaluating recreational gym and field needs in town.

(Of course, the Town is also working on many other projects including the public safety complex and prioritizing sidewalks. But I’ve already written about those.)

Pursuing aggregate power agreement for community

Purple told selectmen that he’s received requests to pursue a Municipal Electric Aggregation. It would allow residents and business owners to leverage their combined buying power for a lower utility rate.

The ultimate decision will be made by Town voters. In preparation, Purple said he would issue an RFP for a consultant. That consultant only gets paid if Town Meeting votes yes and an agreement is reached with a power supplier.

In Purple’s successful past experience, voters saw no downside. Homeowners can expect a $20 -$50 savings per year, and businesses that use much more power would see significant savings. Anyone who prefers to stick with their current provider is allowed to “opt out.”

In answer to questions from the board, Purple clarified that National Grid would still be responsible for maintaining power lines. Utility bills split the charges for supply and transmission. No matter who supplies it, NGrid is responsible for transmission of electricity in Southborough.

The board supported Purple’s plan. But Chair John Rooney said he would need to see the actual anticipated savings before sponsoring an article.

Identifying excess Town properties

Last week, selectmen discussed identifying excess property. Based on their comments, you can expect Fayville Hall to be at the top of their list for disposition.

(Before you ask, the schools weren’t part of that discussion. In a past meetings, selectmen made it clear that those buildings are under the purview of the School Committee and Superintendent.)

The talk focused on the under-utilization of Town properties. Buildings that were of greatest concern to selectmen were:

  • Fayville Hall (42 Central Street) – Occupied only by Southborough Youth & Family services and Southborough Access Media. SAM is expected to move to Trottier Middle School over next summer. (Not mentioned, but often commented on in the past is the purported shabby condition of the building.)
  • The Arts Center (21 Highland Street) – Currently occupied by the Recreation Department only. Also used for file storage by Southborough Cultural Arts Council.

Rooney told the board that having only one department in a building is more than just wasteful. He believes it’s a safety issue.

Also discussed was the possibility that the Senior Center (9 Cordaville Road may have more capacity for use on the lower level. Apparently the upper level has unused space, but also accessibility issues. Installing an elevator is cost prohibitive.

Department of Public Works Annex #2 was also discussed. But Director Karen Galligan told the board that the space is needed for the heated storage, and all their other storage areas are “maxxed out”. If the property was sold, they would need to identify where to relocate the equipment. Galligan also revealed a detriment to the property value. It won’t perk, so can’t pass for new septic.

Rooney asked Purple to come back in January with a proposal with:

the vision of reducing the number of town owned buildings and consolidating and relocating various departments and committees in space which is functional for their operation.

Evaluating town’s gym and field needs

Yesterday, Southborough Wicked Local posted news that Town has issued an RFP to hire a consultant for the Recreation Commission. The project is based on demand for recreational spaces often being greater than space available.

The consultant will look at field use, identify field needs, evaluate future needs, identify needed recreational facilities and recommend an athletic field/outdoor facility master plan and gym use report. . .

The plan will look at possibly putting in new fields or buildings.

The report should also include a game plan if the Senate doesn’t support the Home Rule petition that would enable the Town to re-turf 911 field:

“We have no idea what will happen with that,” Ferguson said.

She said the bills has passed its third reading and is now in the hands of the Senate.

Consultant’s bids are due by December 21st. For more details, see the article.

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