By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – At the March 15 Grafton Board of Selectmen’s meeting, John Bechard, chair of the Department of Public Works (DPW) Building Committee, appeared before the board with a progress update on the new DPW facility. This new DPW project has been controversial on several fronts and Bechard alluded to some of the ongoing concerns.
In June 2015, DPW representatives and Weston and Sampson consultants met with the board to discuss the project, which had been initiated in 2006. The new facility is slated to be built at Estabrook and Old Westboro roads. The existing building is old, dilapidated, arguably too small, and in violation of building and safety codes.
Funding is to be done in two stages. At the October 2015 Town Meeting, voters approved $295,000 for overall building, site acceptance, and building plans costs for the planned 35,400-square-foot facility. Between February and May 2016, stage two calls for spending just over $2 million on complete schematic plan generation, bidding documents, open site bidding, and construction and administration services. From October 2016 to October 2017, the construction of the salt shed will cost $585,000. Between June and December 2016 will be site development, for a planning subtotal of $2.38 million. The site would then be ready for building construction to commence, including completion of the DPW facility. Design and bidding funds of $880,000 are to be secured at the October 2017 Town Meeting. Between April 2018 and spring of 2020, the construction would be completed for just over $10 million, with the total cost of the project at $13.895 million.
At the March 15 meeting, Bechard noted that the committee has run two meetings and presentations on Grafton Cable for voters since last June. Selectman Jennifer Thomas wanted to know what the Grafton Conservation Committee (ConCom) wanted regarding use of the land upon which the new building will sit. Bechard replied that ConCom wanted the 47-acre site to be preserved as best as possible, as it lies within an area of critical environmental concern – the Miscoe, Warren, and Whitehall watersheds. This comment led into a lengthy discussion of the original intent of the seller of the land to the town and whether ConCom had any claim on its use at all. Selectman Bruce Spinney ended this line of discussion by noting that the issue was probably not one the board wanted to see raised at town meeting.
“I’m used to being yelled at,” Bechard joked.
Bechard next ticked off events scheduled for March to May. They include presenting a refined financial plan to the town administrator; meeting with abutters; reviewing the financial plan with the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen; convening a joint meeting between the Board of Selectmen and the Conservation Committee; continuing the public awareness campaign; and submitting an article for the next Town Meeting to keep financing apace.