You may have noticed in my coverage of upcoming Town Meeting, I haven’t mentioned a proposed new Public Safety Complex. And you may have wondered, whatever happened with that?
So have I.
So, I reached out to Public Safety Committee Chair Al Hamilton. He answered that the committee’s work is on hold over issues related to acquiring needed land from St. Mark’s School.
For much of the past year, selectmen and Town officials talked about the importance of replacing or renovating the police and fire stations. Actually, it’s been in talks for many years, but was back on the front burner last year. Then suddenly, the talk stopped.
In the fall, the Advisory Committee and Treasurer both told selectmen the Town could afford to take out a $20 million bond (if needed) to fund the project. Even the auditor gave the board his blessing.
The Public Safety Committee was meeting regularly and working hard to be ready for Town Meeting. An Article placeholder was in the warrant. As of their last public meeting on December 21st, the committee and consultant were preparing to report back to selectmen in January.
Then silence. And no article in the Warrant.
The silence on the project appears to be a sign that the board is in negotiations.
In December, Hamilton presented to the board that their best options for the project included using some abutting parcel of St. Mark’s School land. Selectmen publicly hoped St. Mark’s would consider donating or swapping land.
Chair John Rooney shared that their request would have to be presented to the school’s Board of Trustees in January. And, of course, January is when the item stopped appearing on agendas.
Beginning in January, the BOS has held multiple closed Executive Sessions to discuss purchase of real property. At least one of those related to 84 Main Street. But its likely that one or more related to the public safety complex.
At this point, there is no word whether Town officials will pursue a future Special Town Meeting on the project or table it until next April.
Updated (4/8/16 12:08 pm): I just came across this toward the end of the official Town Budget:
At time of writing various negotiations are ongoing with St Mark’s School to acquire or investigate land use, and the outcome of these discussions should narrow the suggested final plan considerably. It is planned that by the Summer/Fall there will be significant headway for public discussion on a more narrow plan, and in FY17 there should be some Town Meeting action in regards to a new facility.
So did St. Marks say they would not give the town any land?
The communications between the Town and St. Marks are under wraps at this point as the Town tries to negotiate. So, I have no idea what St. Mark’s said.
It would certainly be the right thing to do seeing that Southborough Taxpayers pay to educate quite a few of their faculty students each year at 10K+ a student never mind emergency services etc the Town provides
That is absolutely correct free land.
Just take it by eminent domain. They are not doing anything with it.
That would be a last resort. Eminent Domain proceedings can be very expensive including lots of money spent on lawyers and they can be very lengthy. The fastest and probably least expensive route is a negotiated solution. I believe that the Selectmen are proceeding appropriately.
excellent and thank you selectpeople
How about this St. Marks’s, belly up to the table and donate the land and half the cost from your endowment so your kids will be serviced well by our town when needed. Let’s get some of the 501c3 money that HAS to be spent at the end of each year. Let’s go politicians put some pressure on them. We are glad to help.