Northbridge Looks Ahead To Special Election On DPW

  • Comments (22)
This is the current Northbridge Department of Public Works facility on Fletcher Street.
This is the current Northbridge Department of Public Works facility on Fletcher Street. Photo Credit: Deborah Gauthier

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The plan for a Department of Public Works facility on Douglas Road isn’t dead, although members of the Northbridge Building, Planning and Construction Committee agreed Thursday that it’s on “life support.’’

Voters will be asked at a special election Dec. 17 to exempt the cost of the project from Proposition 2 ½. If a majority of voters approve, another special town meeting could be scheduled by the Board of Selectmen or through petition, Town Manager Theodore Kozak said.

That meeting would have to occur within 90 days of the election.

At the special town meeting Tuesday, voters rejected a request to borrow $3.1 million to purchase a building at 371 Douglas Road and retrofit the building to DPW needs.

A majority of voters supported the project – 139 to 82. But because the plan was to exempt the $3.1 million from the Proposition 2 ½ property tax cap, a two-thirds majority vote was needed.

DPW Director James Shuris said he was encouraged by the Tuesday vote, despite the outcome. “I can’t be unhappy about getting 63 percent of the vote,’’ he said. “Sixty-three percent have confidence; 37 percent don’t have confidence. That’s significant.’’

If a majority of voters support the Proposition 2 ½ exemption Dec. 17, committee members will likely ask selectmen to schedule another special town meeting.

In the meantime, member Timothy Doiron suggested the committee reach out to the community with information in response to a presentation made by an opponent at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We should make sure every question voters have is answered by the election,’’ he said.

“If we win, even by one vote at the election, it’s important we take another stab at town meeting," member Patrick Moynihan said.

Kozak said he hopes that will happen. “It’s a good project; a good opportunity. I hope it passes at election.’’

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Comments (22)

Lets keep wasting money maybe some more research and more meetings. Guess the town fathers need something to waste money on.

Be reminded: "Old Guys Rule". Unless there are new guys who can replace or know how to challenge them and their "old ways" the "Old Guys" will continue to "Rule". The BOS has one retiree and not that old to be considered an "Old Guy" or of that society, the remainder are part of the very active work force. We believe that the BOS are all new in the past five years except for one.

I would have to disagree the BOS really has minor impact on this small part of the DPW situation, ask yourself this question has not the BOS basically supported all the recent failed DPW proposals? With the following thought line points it could take 'All Hands' of our Town Government to deal with the DPW issue, or any future Town building issue?

The issue is quite vast it's Economical, Procedural, Political, Personality's, Unofficial Political Subdivisions to agree, State Issues, and National issues effecting peoples' and Taxpayers attitude's.

It is up to our entire Town Leadership process to identify each Cog in the Wheel of accomplishing a task of a new DPW facility, and correct each Cog until we have a winnable plan for the Town? The possible Unknown Cog is the Union's Collective Bargaining process on Working Conditions, which I am some what dumbfounded why that possible Cog has not come full circle as of yet?


The procedure for any capital project is supposed to start by the direction of the BOS. This to us would indicate that they have to consider all of these factors that you have so well outlined. These factors are vast! But man is not omniscient, but through time he has developed tools to care for his needs. Some of these tools are contradictory to his needs and there is our problem.

Actually UPSO capital projects starts with the BPCC. They are supposed to seek out projects from all departments in town, review, place preliminary budgets on them and add them to all past projects on the capital plan.

The "plan" is then turned over to the Town Manager for review and for the Board of Selectmen to take appropriate action.

Even all school department capital items end up on the plan but I don't recall how they are processed after being submitted to the Manager.

You are wrong!
Read the town by-laws.

Section 6-7 Capital Improvement Program

The town manager shall submit a capital improvement program to the board of selectmen and the finance committee at least one hundred fifty days before the start of each fiscal year.

It shall be based on material prepared by the building planning and construction committee established by by-law, including:

(a) a clear and concise general summary of its contents;
(b) a list of all capital improvements proposed to be undertaken during the next five years, with supporting information as to the need for each capital improvement;
(c) cost estimates, methods of financing and recommended time schedule for each improvement; and,
(d) the estimated annual cost of operating and maintaining each facility and piece of major equipment involved.

This information is to be annually revised by the town manager with regard to the capital improvements still pending or in the process of being acquired, improved or constructed.


Therefore the responsibility for the "cost estimate" is that of the Town Manager as the listing of his activities for "The Capital Improvement Plan.


Looks like our Town Officials have their work cut out for them after the Holidays.

Would you and others help or hinder them by using tools contradictory to the Town needs. What a wonderful Christmas gift it would be to the Town should it be the gift of "help" by you and others without compensation or praise but just plain giving.

Yes UPSO their is a 'Santa Claus', some have giving many Christmas Gifts of help over the years and will continue for future years.

It also could depend on the receiving party if they decide to choose to use those gifts to their full potential, or maybe barter them off for what they thought might be a better gift? But in hind sight the 'original gift' was much better in its full true meaning and potential.

Giving opinions is not giving the gift of help.

Some may disagree, for those who value the opinion of those giving the gift of a good solid valued helpful opinion. To help a person, friend, family,Town, Nation, in difficult or troubled times.

In my opinion outside forces especially the National Economy may trump any possible inner disagreements in our own local hamlet between our self's. Hopefully I am wrong, Happy Holiday Season anyway to you and your family.

We all know the DPW needs an over haul. Creating a satelite location to store 60% of the equipment and it still not meet the needs is concerning. Douglas Rd is a bandage to the whole solution. I think the $7.8 million proposal should be brought before the voters as it seems to be the right solution. Everything at one location, a building that stores a 100% of the equipment along with office space for the whole staff that makes sense. This option was what came out of the money the town spent with consultants to come up with the $7.8 solution.

We need a proper solution not a bandage that won't sustain us in the long run.

See if the State could help, I doubt the taxpayers will go for anything over$2-$3 Million Dollars. Only for the Cost of a Phone Call?

Town should consider contacting MASSDEVELOPMENT a quasi State Agency they have helped other Cities and Town, plus I think the W. C. School in their remodeling project.

The Engineering Department provides project-specific professional engineering and Geographic Information System (GIS) services. Engineering has managed projects in the City of Springfield for the development of the Smith and Wesson Industrial Park and the York Street Jail demolition, and provided 'assistance' to the 'cities' of Lynn, New Bedford, and Chicopee for 'infrastructure and demolition' projects'.

When you put everything into perspective....................................the $8m dollar proposal for HKT's Fletcher St. design isn't as outrageous as people made it out to be.

Just bite the bullet and get it done right, and get it done right the first time.

I think the process has become so complex with local ego's and personalities maybe it may be something for the BOS to consider, to ask the State if they would be willing to build it for the Town complete?

Why would we want to spend $3.1M on office space when we need a garage? The Douglas Road site cannot even fit half of our equipment inside, so after spending a lot of our money, most of our equipment would still be outside to rust, just in a new location.

We need to upgrade our DPW facility, this Douglas Road proposal just isn't viable, nor does it solve the problem. Hopefully the town leaders can see that and begin working on a better alternative.

Here we go again!! Here's the Town and it's officials as they continue to shove this project down our throats again!! Here's the Town as they continue to spend our tax dollars for a special election that isn't necessary especially when the proposed project was defeated at the Special Town Meeting this past Tuesday. The Town Manager continues to cry he has 'no' money yet he continues to find it and spend it foolishly. It's time the BOS put their tails between their legs and to contact Neal Mitchell and to work with him in securing the necessary monies in order to construct his proposed DPW facility where it only belongs and that's where the DPW stands today!! Maybe if both the Town Manager and the DPW Manager, along with some others, lived in this town, they wouldn't act to spend their tax dollars so fast!! Move them in or move them out! Now do the right thing and cancel this meeting and contact Neal Mitchell and start to work together for the people of this community!!!!!!

No Money For Christmas Tree Lights or Street Lights, but plenty of money for Special Town Meeting's here and there and over there, and under there, and side by side


Rockdaler you could not of said it better.

Most say when you figure in the complete lost Revenues' to the Town, (taking the property off the Town Tax rolls) and maintaining the Fletcher Street site for 55-60 years the Total cost of the project may now be close to $5- $6 Million Dollars.

Plus an another possible unknown equation could their be lost Property Value's to the residential abodes and abutters of the project to the Town and Property owners?

'Interesting Comment' from Rockdaler from another Story.

I think you would have to do an Actuary Property Tax study to get the total amount just on the Property Tax figure. The Town has said at the min our Prop Tax goes up at least 2- 1/2 percent every year, using the $11,000 min now compounded by 2.5% over 55-60 years could give you a general figure. Some suggest $1-$2 Million dollar figure could be possible for that time period, plus may it not be just Prop Tax that the Town could be missing out on?

Plus out of those 55-60 year's the unknown tangents are those years the Property Tax went up more then the standard 2.5 %.

Plus the unknown costs in keeping Fletcher Street open could be unpredictable, some suggest $400,000 to $1 Million Dollars over that same time duration of 55-60 years.

Add it all up $3.1 Million basic plus an additional lets say $2.5 Million could equate to $5.6 Million Dollars as a probable amount? Plus 'who knows' could their have been any unexpected costs overrun's to also add to that final possible final figure?

Submitted on December 5, 2012