LONGMEADOW, MA – Since voters approved funding for the new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility in June, town officials have been working to keep the project moving forward.
According to Town Manager Stephen Crane, design of the new DPW will now begin in earnest, as will plans for demolition of the existing building located at Grande Meadows.
“We told the designers we want demolition of the existing building as soon as possible because we believe it to be a liability concern,” Crane said. “We are paying extra insurance to carry it, so we want to address it.”
Crane recently told the Select Board that the town is retaining a “relocation consultant” to assess the value, if any, of the business currently located there, and provide any relocation benefits deemed appropriate for the former owner of the property or business occupants.
“We are holding still on doing anything to the building until that process takes place,” Crane said. “Those are the two priorities for now.”
Crane said the town will also be asking the designers to prepare a report outlining the energy efficiency and “net zero” energy concepts, which will be submitted to the Green Communities Program in hopes of securing additional grant funds to pay for those upgrades.
The project also requires an “owners’ project manager” (OPM), per state statute. Crane said their role as construction experts is to monitor the design process, track invoices, and essentially serve as the town’s construction “watch dog,” said Crane. The OPM chosen for the DPW project is Collier International.
Voters at the annual town meeting in May approved the allocation of $21.2 million to construct and equip the new DPW facility at 170 Dwight Road (Grande Meadows). This amount includes funds to purchase the property, which was privately-owned. Once approved at town meeting, voters were then asked to support the debt exclusion needed to pay for the project at the town election in June. That measure passed by a narrow margin.
To ensure voters had opportunities to learn more about the DPW project, and ask questions, two public forums were held in April on this issue.
– Article by Sarah Leete Tsitso