New Town House Planning

To the Editor:

Much discussion and letters from John Waterman and Joe McDonough continually push for a new building so that the Town House can be privately developed. The current Town House Building Committee has reduced the renovation project and costs by eliminating the large meeting room, to bring the square footage down to 11,225 square feet and developed a new building option with estimated costs. That being said, the petition that the above mentioned presented to the Board of Selectmen states they want $35,000 to form a new committee to develop an alternative Town House of approximately 5,000 to 7,000 square feet. Joe McDonough quotes The General Services Administration’s Workspace Utilization and Allocation Benchmark of 222 square foot per person. To work with that footprint would mean the Town House will be nothing more than a field of low partitions and cubicles, which is what is shown in the manual. He also makes mention of Foxboro Town Hall and how they reduced space. The town hall reduced space is 15,990 square feet and costs being in the neighborhood of $10,200,000 for hard and soft costs. The $6.6 million mentioned by Joe McDonough at the Town House Committee’s open house was an estimate in 2015. The petition also states the following: “The Board of Selectmen is directed to reorganize and appoint a committee for New Town House Planning consisting of five members which shall include a member from the Planning Board and member of the Finance Committee. The three-remaining members at large shall have backgrounds from either business, finance, development, construction or architecture. No Town employee shall be a member of the committee.” (Italics is my emphasis.) It is clear the intent is not to think about preserving the Town House for its intended use for the town but to push for developing the property for real estate gains. Also restricting a town employee seems to imply secrecy and no transparency in the proposed design process of the committee. The current Town House Building Committee has the town’s facilities manager, a non-voting member, to be a part of the process as he will be managing the property no matter which option is selected.

Wayne A. Mattson PE, Marion

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