By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – At the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 1 meeting, a vote on a proposed amendment that will come before the voters at the Monday, Oct. 19 Town Meeting led to the board questioning their support of a new Department of Public Works (DPW) building project.
The amendment was to the contract with Weston and Sampson Engineering for a new facility slated to be built at Estabrook and Old Westboro Road if approved by the town’s voters.
In a prolonged discussion, selectmen debated the amendment, then the contract as a whole, and then whether the project was something the selectmen should support.
Last June, representatives from the Grafton Department of Public Works (DPW) and Jaime Fair of Weston and Sampson Consulting met with the Grafton Board of Selectmen to discuss the project, which was initiated in 2006. The latest funding was approved at the spring 2015 Town Meeting. Voters will be asked to approve another $295,000 for overall building, site acceptance, and building plan costs for the 35,400-square-foot facility. The total cost of the project through spring 2020 will be $13.895 million.
The discussion of the amendment carried over into the agenda item regarding review of the warrant for the Oct. 19 Town Meeting. Ultimately, the amendment was approved.
However, this led to a disagreement between Selectman Dennis Flynn and the rest of the board over a warrant article dealing with ongoing Building Committee duties and responsibilities and how that might change. Flynn repeatedly asserted that transparency regarding this project was lacking, that both townspeople and building committee members really didn’t know what was going to be involved, that a confusion about the new building’s location could be a surprise to some, and that some townspeople thought the entire 11-year project would wind up being a waste of time and money.
Without resolution, Chair Craig Dauphinais agreed that “the board needs to know what we are talking about before Town Meeting,” ended the discussion, and moved that it be continued to a warrant workshop for the week of Sept. 7. This was approved although Flynn expressed disappointment that this source of confusion and contention had again arisen just one month before a related vote at fall Town Meeting. The Town Meeting warrant must be signed by the selectmen no later than Sept. 29.
The Town Meeting will be held in the Grafton High School auditorium on Monday, Oct. 19, starting at 7:30 p.m.