Went down to the impromptu BOS meeting yesterday afternoon at BMH. Quite an informal affair with little on the agenda besides the review of the latest plans for the Parks and Rec Maintenance building. Nevertheless, it was interesting and informative.
The Rec Director arrived with a new proposal to shoehorn a building into the $200,000 budget that was requested and approved by the voters. He’s trying valiantly to weather the politics and negotiate his way to a groundbreaking. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, from various people, let’s just do this now and we can fix or add that part later.
Last meeting, the Director was proposing paying for cost overruns by clipping other parts of his budget, most notably some work at the new cemetery on Middleton Road. He got some resistance to that so he came back with a list of changes to the building, mostly cuts. By the time it went around the table, few, if any, (nobody was really sure) had survived.
To be fair, some of the cuts were just not acceptable under the building code, and Dave Senecal along with Brad Harriman weighed in on those. Others, like removing the copula (you either love ’em or hate ’em), were a little more controversial.
As it became apparent that the project cuts wouldn’t resolve the problem, the discussion moved back to clipping other parts of the Rec budget. Replacement beach sand was identified as a lucrative area because it’s getting too late to do it anyway and because the lions share of the budget isn’t for the sand – it’s to acquire the permits to put the sand there. There is some justice in the world.
I think in the end it was agreed to disagree. There was no motion, just a nod to the Town Manager to use his judgement and sign whatever contracts need to be signed. Dave Senecal was pretty direct when he said that he wouldn’t know what he was voting for as there is little in the way of plans and specification. The Director had said that now that they are committed to a site-built building, as opposed to a pre-fabricated shell, he would have more detailed plans prepared for their review. So this issue has at least one more entertaining meeting left.
Unofficially, I had the chance to meet the low-bidder in the peanut gallery. I introduced myself and we talked prior to the meeting. He was straightforward and when pressed about some of the details that I was concerned about concerning compliance with the energy code, he told me that whatever was required by the code would be included at no additional cost. When I suggested that board insulation around the perimeter and inside the knee-walls would be required, he said he would comply at no additional cost. Same for structural issues, both in the bearing walls and in the footings. When I told the Director of that conversation, he said his experience is that the builder is good at his word.
After the discussion, the Chairman recognized my letter of concern to the Selectmen and allowed my comments. I reiterated my disappointment that no consideration was given to heating the space with waste heat from the ice-arena, and that propane was the most expensive form of heat, even more than electric resistance with the new rates.
It seems as if the Selectmen are struggling with the conflict between moving this project along and doing it right. That’s a start.