NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – An $8 million price tag is attached to the proposed Department of Public Works redevelopment project on Fletcher Street in Northbridge.
HKT Architects, hired in January to study the project's feasibility, outlined the proposal and cost estimate at a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and Building, Planning and Construction Committee on Monday night.
The cost to the average homeowner would be $120.99 in the first year and $77.89 in the last, averaging $99.44 per year over the 20 years of the loan, Town Manager Theodore Kozak said.
The current DPW is a hodgepodge of buildings, vintage 1940, all in disrepair. It is situated on 2.37 acres, much of it in the floodplain of the Mumford River. The Whitin family deeded the land to the town with the restriction that it always be used for highway purposes, said BPCC Chairman Thomas Pilibosian.
The town has for years discussed the need for a new DPW facility and considered moving operations last year to town-owned land at the wastewater treatment plant on Providence Road, Pilibosian said.
The town was studying the feasibility of that plan when James Shuris took over as DPW director last September. Shuris said Fletcher Street, central to the community, was a better location for the DPW. He asked instead for a study on the feasibility of staying.
Voters at the Fall Annual Town Meeting last November approved $76,220 in spending to conduct that study.
In a PowerPoint presentation, HKT architect and principal Janet Slemenda said the BPCC settled on a 19,212-square-foot building located outside the floodplain. It would provide indoor storage for the DPW vehicles as well as two senior vans. Most of the DPW equipment, valued at $1.5 million, is stored outside or under tents.
It was important, she said, for the facility to be out of the 100-year floodplain. “They are first-responders; they must have access to the equipment,’’ she said.
The building scheme would also fit on the wastewater treatment plant property but would $1 million more there.
Shuris said the study answered all the questions he had about staying on Fletcher Street. “It’s a site that works, and it’s also less expensive than at the wastewater treatment plant,’’ he said.
“I’d like to pull the trigger and move forward with this."
Selectman Jay Athanas said the cost would be a hard sell to taxpayers. Selectman Thomas Melia said he was “shocked’’ by the price tag, noting previous estimates were $2.1 million and $2.2 million.
Previous estimates were for projects that did not go through the proper process, Finance Committee Chairman Salvatore D’Amato said. “This went through the procurement process every step of the way. It’s the first legitimate proposal with a legitimate estimate,’’ he said.
Pilibosian said the BPCC will discuss the new step at its meeting Thursday. Voters at the Town Meeting in October may be asked to approve spending for the design and construction.