By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – The town’s Forbes Municipal Building is a bit behind in re-opening after an extensive two-year-plus renovation, but will be worth the wait, officials said.
The building is slated to open now in late September, said Dexter Blois, a member of the town’s Municipal Building Committee. The original date was expected to be late August but several things caused it to be delayed. Part of that is the building is in essence, three buildings in one structure, according to Ted Fiffy, the project manager for CBRE/Heery.
Once complete the Forbes will be home to the town’s Police Department and Public School Administration, each that have their own specific requirements. Other departments to be located there include the Planning Board, Conservation Committee, Recreation Department and Westborough Youth and Family Services.
A building of this type requires a vast array of permits and approvals from different state and local entities as well.
At a cost of $15 million, all involved in the renovation are cognizant of the expenses, Blois said.
“But until you are actually working on the building itself, it not known everything that you are up against,” he added.
One unanticipated challenge was the discovery of an old well beneath the building.
Another challenge was that previous renovations had decidedly “cut corners” – thing had been done “piece meal” and were not up to code, Fiffy said.
The building was given to the town by the Forbes family in 1925 and was first used as Westborough High School before becoming a municipal building.
“But really, considering that it was built in the 1920s before they had the types of power tools and equipment we have now, it was really in good shape structurally,” Fiffy said.
“What we have done is strip the building down and install all new infrastructures,” he said. “This building will then be able to serve many more generations to come.”
The Police Department will be located on the ground floor and part of the second second floor. It will feature state of the art technology, including special lockers where evidence will be stored before being examined in a new lab.
Audio and video will be present in all cells to allow officers to monitor those being held. That technology will also be present in the garage that cruisers will enter when bringing people in.
All police vehicles will be parked behind the building underneath a metal corrugated roof that will help protect the electronics in the cruisers.
Another highlight of the building’s renovation is the auditorium. Much of the woodwork and wall decals have been restored as has the original chandelier. The room will now be able to be used for large meetings and workshops.
The former gym was converted into two floors allowing for even more office space.
There is approximately 9,000 square feet on each floor (including the approximately 7,000 square feet gained from the gym renovation.)
Additional handrails were added to stairways to bring them up to code. They have the same kind of circular pattern that is outside not only the Forbes Building but also the Town Hall.
“This helps to preserve the streetscape, keeping that New England village atmosphere,” Fiffy said.
Sophisticated electronic technology connects the building to Town Hall and the Fire Department. In case of a power grid failure, the building can be brought back fully online in a mere nine seconds.
Officials are hopeful that the building will be ready to be occupied by the end of September. The Police Department and School Administration will be the first to be moved in, followed by the other departments.