After consultant hired, Northborough talks next steps for White Cliffs

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After consultant hired, Northborough talks next steps for White Cliffs
The White Cliffs mansion is located on Main Street in Northborough. (Photo/Caroline Gordon)

NORTHBOROUGH – A consultant helping the White Cliffs Committee market the mansion said July 20 that a key next step in the project will be to formulate ways to judge future responses to requests for proposals (RFP).

Kirk and Company’s Brett Pelletier, who is the consultant, said deciding on the scoring metrics for responses will be the one of the primary drivers of this first stage.

“When I look at this process … what I see is you folks need to be at a point in the future where you have chosen, after an evaluation process, a partner for this project,” said Pelletier during the committee meeting.

Town purchased White Cliffs in 2016

During its June 23 meeting, the committee selected Kirk and Company to help the town market White Cliffs, which was built as a summer home for Smith & Wesson co-founder Daniel Wesson.

The town had purchased White Cliffs back in 2016, saving the mansion from demolition after the LaCava family had applied for a demolition permit.

Town Administrator John Coderre said the town is trying to solicit potential private sector partners to rehabilitate White Cliffs and get it back into use.

Now, part of Pelletier’s work will involve helping the White Cliffs Committee draft a RFP, market the property and help the town analyze the RFP responses.

“The idea is to have a request for proposals that would sufficiently frame up what it is the town is trying to get out of this process so that potential bidders or proposers would know what we’re seeking and would allow us to better focus and market our intentions out into the private sector,” Coderre said.

Pelletier to create data set

As part of the next steps, Pelletier said the committee needed to get a set of acceptable and unacceptable benchmarks for which committee members will be able to evaluate the proposals and lay out what exactly makes a good response.

“Sometimes these things fall apart when it is unclear from the RFP what exactly the benchmarks to success are – the cornerstones of what you all envision and are trying to accomplish here,” Pelletier said.

He asked each committee member to come up with criteria that would fit into that scoring metric.

In the meantime, he set up what he called a “data war room,” which is an encrypted drop box that would contain all of the information about White Cliffs.

He would further curate it into a data set so that when the town goes to bid for the project and there’s interested parties, they would be given access to all relevant information.

Pelletier is also setting up a database to track interested individuals, companies and organizations that he said may be a good resource for their due diligence in advance of issuing the RFP.

“It’s all about creating a big network of individuals and organizations that we can tap into to find the sleeping folks who are not necessarily as easy to find,” Pelletier said. “Gas station developers and contractors that build schools — they’re easy to find. They’re everywhere. But, we need to work really hard to find the people that really recognize the unique opportunity like this.”

The White Cliffs Committee is scheduled to meet again today at 2 p.m.

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