Hudson Town Meeting approves funds for new DPW facility

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Hudson Town Meeting approves funds for new DPW facility
Hudson’s DPW building stands in town. (File photo by/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON — A new operations facility for the Department of Public Works was approved at the 2023 Annual Town meeting on May 1 with the passage of Article 22.

The facility will cost $23.9 million over a period of at least 20 years.

Although the article did pass by a vote of 268-12, there is a ballot question for a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion on the May 8 election that will need to pass to appropriate the funds for the project. 

DPW Director Eric Ryder, who first presented the project on Feb. 6 to the Hudson Select Board, showed photos of the current DPW garage, which was built in 1967 by the then-staff of the DPW.

He showed the condition of the restrooms, the staff break room and the exterior, which has “significant cracking,” There are mold issues throughout the facility, and several parts of it are closed for that reason.

The locker room is located in a place that is not private, he noted. 

He added, “We do not currently have functional showers.”

In addition, Ryder said some of their vehicles and equipment barely fits into their garage space and cannot be worked on in their garage and must be serviced outside, often in inclement weather.

He pointed out that the outside of the fleet maintenance facility could be seen on the interior of the roof. 

“That’s daylight on the outside,” he said.

As part of the plans, the current salt shed will be relocated to the transfer station and repurposed when B-P Trucking builds its new facility, he said.

The new facility will have offices on the left side, a full break room with a proper kitchen, locker rooms for men and women and equipment storage with a wash bay.

“This building is designed for the needs and potential growth for Hudson public works for the next 50 plus years,” said Ryder.

Ryder thanked Operations Manager Ken Blood, Assistant Director Rajitha Purimetia, Administrative Manager Shaye Klotz and the architects for their work on the proposal.

Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory said the impact would be $279 per year on tax bills, which would decrease in subsequent years.

Residents weigh in on Hudson DPW facility

Resident Joe Coffey, who has lived in Hudson since 1962, said, “I’m very proud … the roads are plowed and cleaned better than any town or city in Massachusetts. And, I back this program for the Public Works Department because they are the manpower that cleans your streets.”

He added, “I would suggest that everybody would support this article.”

Justin Provencher agreed that the DPW needed a new facility, but he asked about the additional office space in the design and why the current space was “not adequate” for their needs. 

Gregory said there were strategic conversations with the Hudson Police Department. According to Gregory, it was decided there would be value saved for the town to have “all of the operations co-located in the same facility.”

The current DPW office space would be repurposed to allow the police department to expand their existing office space. However, Gregory noted, “It’s an open dialogue.”

Resident Jim Carvalho said he has heard from neighbors that the project is “too grand for Hudson.” But after looking into similar towns to Hudson and their facilities, he saw comparable costs.

“If Goldilocks were here, she’d say, ‘It’s not too big. It’s not too small. It’s just right,’” said Carvalho.

Some residents supported the need, but not the cost of the project.

“I agree the DPW needs a new garage, but I think $24 million, for primarily garage space, is too much,” said Brandon Parker. “At a proposed 40,800 square feet, the cost is $588 per square foot.”

He said if the building were being built for a private contracting company, it would not “be nearly as elaborate as what I’ve seen in the plans.” He questioned the need for all of the vehicles to be garaged as well.

Ryder said they did their research by visiting facilities in other communities and recent public works projects that have gone out to bid. Building costs are rising, he said, and it could be $28 million if they wait a few years.

“Unfortunately, this is the market we’re in. We can’t just kick the can further down the road,” said Ryder.

Other articles

Article 29, which transfers the care and management of the Armory on 35 Washington St. from the town of Hudson to another party for the purpose of a performing arts center, also passed.

The armory will be managed by the Hudson Cultural Alliance, the group that is in the process of renovating and converting the building to its new purpose.

Charles Randall, who is on the executive board of the alliance, said the Hudson Cultural Alliance contributed $4,900 to the town for the appraisal and $24,000 to do an environmental study. The group worked with Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow) and Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough) to secure a $230,000 grant for the purchase price based on the appraisal.

“We have a huge group of volunteers that are spending a lot of time and energy on this project. It’s going to be a community project,” said Randall.

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