Municipal Facilities Feasibility Study FAQs: November 2021
What is it?
- Funding for Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) and designer services for DPW, Police and Fire building replacement / consolidation and site location feasibility study.
- Feasibility phase would include building and site assessments, operational needs assessment (i.e. space needed to adequately house personnel, fleet, members of public), service needs assessment (i.e. fire station location and response time assessments), budget projections and options analysis.
- In short – Feasibility phase will determine which buildings need to be replaced, which can be combined on a shared campus, where those future buildings should be located, what impacts to services can we anticipate, and how much is it going to cost?
Why are we starting the feasibility process?
- DPW, Water, Police and Fire (Lothrop) facilities range from 50-70+ years old, they are antiquated and not up to variety of accessibility, safety, and environmental codes. They are too small for the equipment and personnel they are intended to house, resulting in overcrowding of equipment and exposure of equipment to the elements (50+ vehicles are uncovered year round) and confinement of personnel to crowded facilities with inadequate space to work safely. The facilities are past their useful lives and continued annual capital spending on repairs is not a sound investment.
- Photos of the DPW, Police and Fire Facilities are available here.
- Feasibility is the first step in ascertaining the appropriate and necessary replacement options available in a proactive and responsible manner, rather than a reactive and emergency repair basis as the buildings further degrade. Because replacement of public facilities, from feasibility to move-in-ready, can take 5 + years, it is important to start now.
This seems sudden – has any work already been done to get us to this point?
Yes, a significant amount of work has gone into this process over many years:
- 2014 Dore & Whittier Municipal Facilities Assessment – this study quantified more than $339 million in school and municipal building replacement costs. This study was one of many contributing factors that supported the decision to enter into the MSBA process to replace Center School, Parkview, and Moreau Hall with the now-under-construction Blanche Ames Elementary School Project.
- 2019 Municipal Building Committee and DPW Director - Facilities Assessment and Replacement Recommendation Report – this report from Director Field, issued at the request of the Municipal Building Committee, updated municipal facilities needs assessments from the 2014 D&W study and concluded that numerous facilities need replacement: DPW, Water, Police, Fire Station 1 and potentially Frothingham Hall.
- 2020 Municipal Facilities Feasibility Funding requested in FY21 Capital Budget – deferred due to lack of funding at that time
- 2021 Select Board adopts Goals for Town Administrator to advance planning and funding strategies for municipal facilities replacement during FY22.
- 2021 Town Administrator recommends $500,000 in FY22 Capital Budget Supplement to accomplish this goal and begin the feasibility process.
Who has reviewed the request and recommended it? Have any boards or committees of citizens reviewed this?
- The FY22 Capital funding request for feasibility has been reviewed at public meetings and unanimously supported by:
- Capital Planning Committee – October 12, 2021
- Finance Committee – October 13, 2021
- Select Board – October 18, 2021
- Municipal Building Committee – October 26, 2021
Why $500,000? Isn’t that a lot for feasibility? Wouldn't it make more sense to spend the $500,000 fixing the buildings we already have?
- Feasibility phase funding includes a variety of complex technical and professional design services including an Owners Project Manager (required by state law for any public building project of this scale) and designer / engineering services for 50 – 100,000+ sqft of building construction housing the largest municipal departments and a multi-million-dollar fleet of over 70 vehicles including fuel depots, equipment and hazardous material storage.
- For frame of reference, the 2017 appropriation for Feasibility for the now-under-construction Blanche Ames Elementary School was $1 million.
- Much like replacing Moreau Hall, Center School, and Parkview with the new Blanche Ames building - spending significant capital to repair and replace components of 50-70 year old buildings is suboptimal for two reasons: 1) that amount of funding is inadequate to bring the buildings up to code and 2) even if you spent the millions necessary to bring the facilities up to code, they would still be far too small and would not meet 21st century operational needs.
How long would feasibility phase take and when does this turn into construction project budget decisions?
- Feasibility phase can take 1-2 years depending on number of potential buildings to be replaced and/or consolidated and on which sites. Typically, the process for a public building would flow [Feasibility / Schematic Design > Detailed Design > Construction]. Depending on budget, some or much of the schematic design can occur during Feasibility stage.
- For frame of reference, Blanche Ames Elementary project had Feasibility funded by Town Meeting in November 2017; the next vote was for Detailed Design and Construction in October 2019 and Debt Exclusion in November 2019; Construction broke ground in spring 2021.
- Key component of feasibility, similar to the Blanche Ames School, will be public engagement, feedback, and education via community and board meetings and facilities tours.
- Regular updates on the feasibility process will be provided publicly via the Municipal Building Committee (similar to School Planning Committee) and project website.
- At conclusion of feasibility phase, Town will have recommended project and design / construction budget, which will need approval by voters at Town Meeting and an associated debt exclusion for funding to advance any further.
I want to learn more. Who can I direct questions to?