NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – For two hours on Saturday, a steady stream of residents visited the Northbridge Department of Public Works on Fletcher Street.
They were greeted by James Shuris, Department of Public Works director, Robert Van Meter, highway superintendent, and Ron White, vice chairman of the Building, Planning and Construction Committee (BPCC), who were ready to answer questions about plans to build a new public works facility.
Residents have been debating the pros and cons of building a new department of public works faciltiy for years. The current facility was built in 1941 in the flood plain of the Mumford River on land donated by the Whitin family.
The deed specifies the land can only be used for highway purposes.
Several DPW proposals have been discussed this year, one that studied whether it would be feasible to stay on Fletcher Street despite its proximity to the river. The study, conducted by HKT Architects, determined revitalization was feasible, but the cost was about $8 million.
Based on that cost, the Board of Selectmen sent BPCC members back to the drawing board.
A second proposal is to purchase a vacant building on Douglas Street, about a half mile from Fletcher Street, for $995,000 and retrofit that building to DPW needs for $2.1 million.
Selectmen agreed last week to present that $3.1 million plan to voters at a special town meeting and special election in December.
A third proposal comes before voters at the fall annual town meeting Tuesday. A petitioned article seeks $1.8 million to build a DPW facility designed by Northbridge engineer Neal Mitchell.
There is considerable controversy over that plan, with many officials concerned the facility can’t be built for $1.8 million. Proponents say the numbers they’ve presented are sound.
McDonald's and Whitinsville Water Co. donated refreshments.