NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The Northbridge Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Monday night to support a $3.1 million Department of Public Works facility on Douglas Road that goes before voters at a Special Town Meeting on Dec. 4.
Selectman James Marzec was the dissenting vote. He supported a $1.8 million DPW facility proposal rejected by voters at the fall annual town meeting in October.
That proposal was a 12,000-square-foot facility designed by local engineer Neal Mitchell. Proponents said that facility could have been built at the current DPW site on Fletcher Street or at the wastewater treatment facility on Providence Road for an estimated cost of $1.8 million.
Members of the Building, Planning and Construction Committee and the Finance Committee did not believe the estimate was accurate and recommend rejection.
Both committees support the Douglas Road plan.
Marzec said he believes the designer and proponents of the $1.8 proposal were held to higher standards than that of the Douglas Road project.
The proposal that goes before voters on Dec. 4 is a two-phase plan – purchase of the 19,200-square-foot Old Colony building on Douglas Road for $995,000, which will be retrofitted for DPW use for $2.1 million.
Department of Public Works Director James Shuris said a study conducted by HKT Architects confirmed his department needs a 19,000-square-foot facility to meet its needs now and into the future.
The Douglas Road proposal is the third DPW proposal to come before voters, noted Selectman Thomas J. Melia, and he believes it’s the last time it will be addressed. “Three times and you’re out,” he said.
“The bottom line is our boards have come forward in support of this. That’s enough for me. I’ve listened,” he said, adding, “Let’s back them for once in the best interests of the town of Northbridge.”
If the project is approved, voters will be asked at a special election on Dec. 17 to fund it with a $3.1 million debt exclusion outside of Proposition 2 ½.
The debt exclusion will cost taxpayers with homes valued at $265,000 an average $38.53 per year, $9 per quarter, over the 20-year life of the loan.
Selectman Charles Ampagoomian asked Marzec to reconsider his vote for the sake of unity.
Marzec said he wasn’t prepared to do that. “If something changes before town meeting, I may change my mind,” he said.