NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Department of Public Works Director James Shuris told about 12 of the town’s senior residents on Tuesday that the latest plan for a new DPW facility merges the best the town has to offer.
The proposal that goes to voters on Oct. 23 is to purchase the former Old Colony site at 371 Douglas Road for $995,000. At a town meeting next May, voters will be asked to fund renovation of that building at a cost of $2.1 million.
Renovations include many of the plans proposed by Neal Mitchell, a Northbridge engineer who designed for free a DPW facility proposed for town-owned land at the wastewater treatment plant on Providence Road.
That proposal was rejected by voters two years ago.
“The volunteers who spent all that time putting together that plan have to be recognized and have to be part of the solution,’’ Shuris said.
He believes, however, that the Providence Road site is not a good location for the DPW. Redesign of the railroad crossing would cost about $500,00 and a DPW should be centrally located, he said.
Its current Fletcher Street location is perfect, but a plan to redevelopment that property comes with an $8 million price tag, Shuris said, “and we knew that was too much money.’’
The Douglas Road proposal also includes about $123,000 in renovations to the Fletcher Street property which will continue to be used for winter operations and as a composting site, Shuris said.
The Douglas Road property is just a half mile from the Fletcher Street so still gives direct access to five of the town’s major roadways.
Shuris noted the Fletcher Street property was deeded to the town in the early 1940s with a condition that it always be used for highway operations.
Gearing up for winter, Highway Superintendent Robert Van Meter explained the town’s snow and ice policy and he and Shuris answered questions, one broached by a woman concerned with the condition of sidewalks, particularly around Colonial Drive.
Van Meter said the bulks of the town’s highway funds goes toward roads, but that he is also concerned about the condition of sidewalks and hopes to that a community development grant, which was used to replace sidewalks on North Main Street, will become available.
An open house will be held at the Department of Public Works on Fletcher Street Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon and the public is invited, Shuris said.