Poll: Put $8M DPW Project On Northbridge Ballot?

  • Comments (63)
A plan to redevelop the Northbridge Department of Public Works facility could cost $8 million. Should taxpayers be allowed to vote on the proposal?
A plan to redevelop the Northbridge Department of Public Works facility could cost $8 million. Should taxpayers be allowed to vote on the proposal? Photo Credit: File

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. ‒ The Board of Selectmen has been asked to give taxpayers the final say on an $8 million proposal to redevelop the Department of Public Works facility on Fletcher Street.

Poll

Should Northbridge voters be given the opportunity to vote on an $8M DPW proposal which was the result of a study they paid for?

View Results
Reader Results

Should Northbridge voters be given the opportunity to vote on an $8M DPW proposal which was the result of a study they paid for?

  • Yes

    54%
  • No

    39%
  • Just don't care

    7%
Back to Vote

The request was made by the Northbridge Building, Planning and Construction Committee. 

Selectmen withdrew their support for the project after a study indicated it could cost as much as $8 million.

Building, Planning and Construction Committee members said the taxpayers, who paid for the study, should have the opportunity to make that decision.

What do you think? Take part in The Northbridge Daily Voice's poll.

  • 63
    Comments

Comments (63)

Mr. Davis,

Thanks for the opportunity for going on a "Buggy Ride Carousel" Mr. Music Man but no thanks.

That would be a lot of reading for no reason.

Everything already written is implied and nothing more.

Mr. Davis has not as yet answered questions as to proving his claims of the BOS putting the $1.2M project at the WWTP out to bid implying that it was consistent with MGLs, advertising, etc.

Only claims!

It would be of good service to the Town if he could have the BOS(5) confirm his claims.

UPSO,

You must have overlooked this in his Comment? :)

""The bids were received in the Managers office and copies should still be availble-through a FOI request if necessary.""

UPSO, Fred is a heck of guy, give him a call he may just make some Copies when he has some time and send them out to you from the TMang Office.?

Read the words:

"UPSO:
Mr. Davis has not as yet answered questions as to proving his claims of the BOS putting the $1.2M project at the WWTP out to bid implying that it was consistent with MGLs, advertising, etc.

Only claims!

It would be of good service to the Town if he could have the BOS(5) confirm his claims.

Submitted on February 28, 2013 - 10:48am."

http://www.northbridgemass.org/board-of-selectmen/minutes/selectmen-minutes-17

http://www.northbridgemass.org/board-of-selectmen/minutes/selectmen-minutes-19

http://www.northbridgemass.org/board-of-selectmen/minutes/selectmen-minutes-22

Well does outsourcing sound good now? Get rid of the DPW and out source a contractor to take care of the town,

union man,

Then go to the BOS and propose it, better yet have them put it on the Town Meeting agenda.
Start getting the signatures now. you may still have time.

union man,

Then go to the BOS and propose it, better yet have them put it on the Town Meeting agenda.
Start getting the signatures now. you may still have time.

Mr. Davis

You did not answer any questions from this previous "post" then, should it be trusted that you are unwilling to answer the questions submitted on February 27, 2013 - 12:42pm by this respondence?

Hi fans...grommit from Grafton here. I've got your solution: Grafton is also investigating building a new DPW Palace, er, Garage. How about we build the garage on the border between Grafton and Northbridge and SHARE the facility! You could cut your expenses quite a bit...not in half, because you would need some extra space for the Grafton fleet (and our spiffy Police power boat, which gets lots of use in our deep water lakes...ha!). The extra space should not be astronomically expensive. And if you go with a prefab construction, you save tons of money, and they last just as long. Whaddya' think?

Townspeople of Northbridge. First, let me apologize for Grommit from Grafton. Every village needs and idiot and Grommit fits the bill to a tee for us here in Grafton.
A DPW barn is a very expensive undertaking and one that should not be made light of. Your town has needs beyond just a new DPW bard. Similarly, so does Grafton. Capital improvement projects can divide a town (see: New Grafton High School, proposed new Grafton Library, new Grafton Fire Department, etc.). One item to note is that like the police and fire, your DPW workers are first responders; they are there in snow storms, hurricanes, and anything else Mother Nature decides to throw our way. The Grafton DPW barn is a deplorable situation - no fire sprinklers, no proper muster room/breakroom for the employees (currently they use a bay in the barn that's neither heated nor cooled), and the building isn't properly ventilated for when all the trucks are started up.

$8M is expensive. Very expensive. There may be other options that are feasible and not as expensive. In the end, what is done for the DPW will be in the best interest of the town and it's current (and future needs).

Best of luck weighing the DPW issue.

To Voice of reason: Madam...don't get your knickers in a bunch. And stop with the name-calling. It only hurts your argument.
Sharing a very expensive facility makes perfect fiscal sense. Using a prefab facility makes even more sense, as has been done for several surrounding towns and businesses. Prefab lets you minimize construction costs while putting money into interior areas that the DPW employees can actually benefit from.
As you say, "$8M is very expensive". What suggestions do you have to minimize the cost of the Grafton DPW building exterior while maximizing the quality of the interior?

Grommit, first things first. I never wear knickers. They bind me up. Think about that as you eat your chicken pot pie.

What I would love to hear you wax non-poetic about is how exactly a shared garage works for an entire town? Before you can put a shovel in the ground, what are the land acquisition costs? And what about a feasibility study for what is a combined structure? Further, how much more in fuel would a town pay when the garage is not centrally located? And are there two separate garages to repair the vehicles and two separate fuel tanks to gas up the equipment or is it shared? And if shared, how are the costs split - both materials and labor? And how are construction costs split as the towns are both geographically and economically different? Does Grafton pay more because it might be better off economically/has a more diverse tax base? Or is Northbridge saddled with a larger expense?

And since you asked the direct question, a corrugated steel building for the garage and brick front structure for the office/meeting/break room space is the most feasible. It's not the Taj Mahal. It's a reasonable structure for a town's first responders. And one that is a reasonable investment for a town and would last longer than a wood/steel/block building.

At some point a pre fab building is not cost effective for everyday operations. Salt storage, yes. Small sign companies, yes. For storing 25+ pieces of equipment, storage of other materials, and a workshop/machine shop/repair facility probably not. And when you combine the fleet of two towns and the needed accessories (like a maintenance area) it makes even less sense. I will concede that your pre fab and my corrugated might be one and the same.

Maybe we could meet at a bar on the town line and discuss this like to educated individuals rather than banter back and forth on a periodical's website.

Yours without knickers,
Voice of Reason

grommit:

To many Political issues, thanks for the suggestion, we may slow or weigh Grafton Down in your building process, unless your are on a twenty year plan.

Everyone wants a facility where DPW workers
have all the tools and resources they need to do
their jobs and keep out of the elements. Everyone
wants DPW equipment to be well maintained and
out of the elements. But does that really cost
$8 million?

frog pond:

Your question: "But does that really cost $8 million?"

The following is a quote:
"To meet the "Town" DPW needs review public records to see a complete line by line "Project Cost" prepared by a professional cost estimator including full supporting plan, elevation and section documentation.
This estimate indicates all the elements that go into a "Project Cost" including contingencies. Contingencies are those component costs of a project that can not be fully defined such as the "scope" of the sites probable soil contamination.
There are "Outline Specifications" for all the components of the proposed structure upon which the estimate was based.
There is an "Equipment" listing etc...
Every component of a full estimate is indicated to indicate the full probable "Project Cost"

So if you want to know if this is a $8M "Town" DPW project vs. a $2.1M "minimized scope" project cost , you should review the full recorded documentation available and make up your own mind.

Thank you for your attention!

As a new resident, Real Estate taxpayer, and over the age of 75, I was very surprised by the lack of recognition by three (3) members of the Board of Selectman, of the Democratic process. The decision not to place the Warrant Article on Town Meeting for the Department of Public Works , negates voters right to choose .

The town has many other forthcoming capital needs, including the fire station and schools (especially Balmer) for which we'll need to preserve funding capacity. Why would the town want to spend $8M on a DPW facility, when a sensible $2M prefabricated building (Mitchell/Mathieu Plan) would serve the same purpose? $6M could go a long way towards funding some of these other needs.

lets throw this out there, a new DPW building gets shelved because nobody wants to spend more then $2 million will the town's people then run scared at the cost of building a new fire station? The town of Westborough is building a new one at a cost of $11.2 million (http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x775168354/Westborough-to-vote-on-funding-for-new-fire-station) or will we run scared from that as well?

I am trying to understand what the priority is in this town, is it building anything BUT a DPW in this town or is it in trying NOT to spend any money in this town to improve the infrastructure? The reality is this town has neglected its infrastructure for to many years and now the needs of the town have turned into necessity. We need to accept this fact and plan on spending our money wisely to make the upgrades and maintenance needed to the town buildings.
If spending no money in this town over our current tax rate is supported then we are wasting our time looking at any of these projects.

whderv:

Northbridge is a very hard working Blue Collar Town, as Frog Pond mentioned with a very low Commercial Tax Base. Plus those Taxpayers that are maybe unaware almost half of our Towns annual $38 Million Dollar yearly budget is State Aid.

Since the majority of the Taxpayers fall into the 99% group, most Taxpayers wages have been stagnant for many years, plus Seniors just barely getting by on fixed incomes.

So for Capitol projects to pass in this Town either they have to be very economical, very well thought out, or supplemented with State or Federal Grants like other Towns have received in the Commonwealth.

In a nutshell Northbridge is the type of Town that may approve a Chevy Impala DPW, over an Audie 6 DPW, they both will hold five people and get you where you want to go. This is why a lot of people feel the Mitchell Groups $1.8 Million Dollar DPW Temp Plate plan has the best chance of passing in the present economic climate.

The question may be why has the BPCC not maybe acted on that plan? If correct? It was submitted to them in August of 2012, if I recall correctly.

Will,

You ask "The question may be why has the BPCC not maybe acted on that plan?"

How about because they and others know that it is a pipe dream.

Just A Guy,

Ask yourself this question the Fall 2010, 12000 sq. ft, DPW proposal, Washbay, new Saltshed, at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Did it not go out to BID, did not the Town, 2010 BPCC have return completed Bids from it being BID at that price? Plus the Bidders were all in that price range?

From my understanding the former DPW Director said the 12,000 sq.ft, facility would meet the present and future needs of the DPW.

Plus if the Town needed more room, they could put the Admin Offices of the 2010 proposal in the Sewer Bldg, correct?

Juggy,

To the best of my knowledge.................

1) It did not go out for an advertized bid.

2) The numbers that were collected were not from an approved set of drawings.

3) There were no formal specs.

4) The prices received were not based on prevailing wage.

5) Numbers for the RR Xing were numbers that Jim Marzec received on the phone minutes before the meeting.

Jack,

Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong on any of these accounts.

Here are the facts, as requested:

1) The building portion of the project was put out to bid by the BOS and six bids came in at an average cost of one million dollars for a completed building with furnishings and equipment. The remainder of the 2.1 million was the washbay, salt shed, new entry, RR crossing and site work along with a contingency of 10%.

2) The bids were based on a 44E specification submitted to and approved before hand by the Assistant Attorney General, Deb Anderson.

3) There were specs based on a design concept as called for in 44E and approved by the former DPW director, the BPCC and AAG Anderson.

4) Prevailing wages were in the bid package that all contractors had to follow as required by the Davis/Bacon law.

5) The railroad number was a quote from the P & W head engineer whom we met on site (Mr. Knapik, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Marzec and myself).

Jack

Jack,

I didn't recall most of that being the case when I went to the meeting at the HS/MS auditorium. I remember Jim disclosing last minute details learned from a phone conversation learned just prior to the meeting.

Out of curiosity as to how the whole thing transpired were the bids advertized or were they through companies that you, Neil, and others had worked with previously? Also were they actual bids or just off the cuff estimates?

I don't recall any of the facts that you just provided being disclosed at the meeting. A lot of those things are what make myself and I presume others so skeptical that the numbers associated with the "Mitchell" proposals.

Thanks in advance for helping me and others better understand what was behind that proposal.

J.A.G

JAG,

All the information I listed was provided in a power point presentation at that fall town meeting by Mr. Knapik who at the time was the chairman of the BPCC.

Mr. Knapik was just as skeptical as others ended up being about using 44E. The difference is that he took the time to call Attorney Anderson at the AG's office and confirmed for himself that 44E was a viable option for a DPW facility.

The BOS put out an RFP as required by the Massachusetts bidding laws and as I mentioned six companies, all with pre-fabricated, metal building experience submitted bids. The advertisement was listed in the Central Register, again as required by state law, after having been shown to Attorney Anderson.

The bids were received in the Managers office and copies should still be availble-through a FOI request if necessary.

To be clear, the information I have given is in reply to questions or misinformation posted about what was provided in regards to the Providence Road DPW proposal.

There is no longer a "Mitchell Team" or a Mitchell proposal.

It's unfortunate that there are still individuals who question the process we used and the pricing established by experienced individuals but as the saying goes it is now "water under the bridge".

Jack

Mr. Davis,

You must have forgotten about answering some of previously submitted questions that would inform the taxpaying residents about restoring the facts of the DPW WWTP site bidding process.

Some were:
What was the date the BOS put this project out to bid?
Who were the qualified bidders?
Who received and recorded the bids?
Why wasn't the bid approved?
(Submitted on February 27, 2013 - 12:42pm)

By the way, it appears that you keep hanging on to the DPW WWTP site no matter what issue comes up on "DV".

This propaganda routine you use, "repetition" no matter what the issue, was used most frequently previously and during WW II. History knows the rest.

OMG UPSO,

You are sick.

I have no interest in a DPW.

I have no interest in being involved in a DPW.

You know full well my continued comments are because of questions asked about the previous processes. Seeing I was involved from day one with the WWTP site and part of the "Mitchell Team" it seemed obvious who should respond to, at a minimum, a lack of knowledge by some of what transpired and at the worse complete false remarks about what transpired.

You're continued phony contrarian statements rather than putting forth a solution to a major problem shows you for what you are. A problem creator and not a problem solver.

So, rather than continue this obvious "baiting", why not put forth your "team", put together a viable solution, pro-bono, for the Town, get most of the BOS, half the Fincom, all the BPCC and a majority of Town Meeting to support you and then take the cheap shots that you now feel obligated to put forth when you don't get the 2/3rds required.

WWII????-As I said: You are sick.

Mr. Davis,

A most "MODERATE?" response!

Your statement, "You know full well my continued comments are because of questions asked about the previous processes. Seeing I was involved from day one with the WWTP site and part of the "Mitchell Team" it seemed obvious who should respond to, at a minimum, a lack of knowledge by some of what transpired and at the worse complete false remarks about what transpired." is in clear contradiction of your other statements in the same post, "I have no interest in a DPW." and "I have no interest in being involved in a DPW." Again you leave questions to be directly answered!

For your statement, "You're continued phony contrarian statements rather than putting forth a solution to a major problem shows you for what you are. A problem creator and not a problem solver." One possible solution would be for you not to have any continuing interest in a DPW and not be involved in a DPW.

In relation to your: "So, rather than continue this obvious "baiting", why not put forth your "team", put together a viable solution, pro-bono, for the Town, get most of the BOS, half the Fincom, all the BPCC and a majority of Town Meeting to support you and then take the cheap shots that you now feel obligated to put forth when you don't get the 2/3rds required." This has been done via the "Process", except the "pro bono" element.

Now for your: "WWII????-As I said: You are sick." You must have read of or lost a family member or family friend in World War II and the events that lead up to it and the horrors that it spewed along with the propaganda that was used to create this horror. Your "MODERATION" in labeling people or groups of people may be a problem to many.

Jack

I don't know how people could be faulted for being skeptical about something that was put together outside of the "normal" open meeting format that a committee like the BPCC would be required to use.

Please keep in mind that I am referencing the original proposal for the WWTP site.

JAG,

Skepticism is good.

Why would anyone accept a donation of thousands of dollars of free engineering by people who do that type of work for a living, live in town and wished to help with a major problem?

Especially when all the parties responsible for accepting the work and presenting it to the townspeople were invited to review what was done and there were presentations to all three major boards.

It was obviously better to accept the work of a design team for over seventy thousand dollars and who proposed an 8.5 million dollar facility.

Please keep in mind that I am using a little sarcasm, in case you and UPSO couldn't tell.

One last point, the WWTP site was used in our proposal because it had been unanimously supported as a site by all three major boards before it was determined the "turtle area" wouldn't allow it.

We proved, with a letter from Natural Heritage, that it could be constructed on site, did all the background work, pro-bono to prove it could be done for the 2.1 million dollar figure and then presented it to all boards.

The water continues to flow under the bridge and the snow to fall on our equipment that is stored outside.

And skeptism is good.

Jack

"Excellent Points, Mr. Davis!"

Good Points, it underscores why your suggestion on having all the Principals for Table Talk Meetings make sense because of possible 'misinformation' people hear through the Grape Vine, or maybe misunderstand.

"Good Point'

""(The BOS put out an RFP as required by the Massachusetts bidding laws and as I mentioned six companies, all with pre-fabricated, metal building experience submitted bids. The advertisement was listed in the Central Register, again as required by state law, after having been shown to Attorney Anderson.

The bids were received in the Managers office and copies should still be availble-through a FOI request if necessary.)""!

'Seem's' like a 'No Brainer' all the present BPCC would have to do is recalibrate the BID's that came into the Town Managers Office I think in September of 2010? Put a request out for new BID's, using that informational meat of the 2010 BIDs. All the Heavy Lifting has been done for the present BPCC.

Mr. Davis,

"Jack Davis:
Here are the facts, as requested:

1) The building portion of the project was put out to bid by the BOS and six bids came in at an average cost of one million dollars for a completed building with furnishings and equipment. The remainder of the 2.1 million was the washbay, salt shed, new entry, RR crossing and site work along with a contingency of 10%."

What was the date the BOS put this project out to bid?
Who were the qualified bidders?
Who received and recorded the bids?
Why wasn't the bid approved?

That is only part of the issues related to question #1.

Your answers appear to be more of a problem than they solve but to be sure you will be "Nimble and Quick..."

Excellent Information Mr. Davis, the Bid information I find very informative.

Who would not want to improve the Towns Rail Road Crossing, very strange?

What you mentioned in bringing all the Principal's together and to work out a DPW solution makes sense, plus is a way to move forward.

MrWill,

Please don't take this a personal attack as that is not the intent but I am tired of being told that Northbridge is a poor town, we get most of money as a handout (first from the mills now the state) and that 99% of the town can't afford to invest in the place they live.

I realize people are on a fixed income, I am not trying to imply that I want to fill the town with Audi's vs. Chevy's, but at some point the people need to understand that you get what you pay for. Our tax rate is the lowest of the 12 surrounding towns and the conditions of our roads, schools and building show this.

So back to the DPW, "IF" the $8 million for a DPW was the best choice, I am making the argument that people in this town refuse to invest in their own town because they think that either the Whitin family will return and start covering the expenses of the town or the state will pay for them. If we look at the DPW we are talking less then $100 per year per family to fund this? What are we going to do when we need to replace Balmer or the Middle School, are we going to burry our heads in the sand and hope someone else will invest in our town because we will not?

I am not implying that a $100 increase to someone on a fixed income isn't significant but consider the impact to that persons property value if we ignore the infrastructure and the schools? Can they afford to loose $10K, $20k... in lost property value compared to surrounding towns due to our schools.

I thought Mitchell plan was a great idea and if I had $1.8 million to spend I would build the DPW just to prove to a lot of "Ney-Sayers" that it could be done but regretfully town politics do not appear to want to let the Mitchell plan have a seat at the table and thus it is not going anywhere.

Again, I am not attacking you, I am trying to throw stones at the idea that everyone in this town is poor and at the mercy of others to fund its needs.

I'll question your math, whderv. How many years at $100 per year per family
equals the $8 million? 1 year = 80000 families, and you can break it down
from there. How many families are in Northbridge?

It works out to .28 a day for the average homeowner. I challenge you to come up with a sizeable number of people who's lives would be drasticaly impacted by having to part with that amount.

The Town Manager provided the estimate of $100 (actually he said a little under $100) when approached about the cost per avg household over 20 years for the $8 million. I am again not saying I think the $8 million dollar DPW is the best solution I am saying that the town needs to look past just seeing the large dollar amount and look at the impact per household.

whderv;

I think it all boil's down to economic's and the factual economic make up of the Town.

Some say a lot of Taxpayers would not have voted for the new High School unless it had what a 75%-80% reimbursement from the State's School Building program for the Town, if correct?

Unless their may be a major shift an economic demographic's, Tax Base, the facts may be we are a potential 'Blue Plate Special' type of Town, when it may come to the Capital projects of the Town you mention. Plus to add over the last ten years the depressed economy has really impacted the 99%, and State and Municipal budgets.

Northbridge isn't Westboro. Nowhere near the tax base.
The priority is cost effectiveness. Property tax payers in
this town aren't sold on the proposals.

I agree we aren't Westborough but the reality of the situation is that if the cost to build a firestation to meet our needs is similar in size to the one built in Westborough that it will cost between $10-$12 million and they are not going to give us a "Blue Plate" special price for a similar structure in our town. So we need to understand that it costs what it costs unless we agree to "do without" and scale everything back regardless of whether we are talking about building a DPW, a Firestation or a school.

My Uncle resides in Ware, MA, and Congressman James McGovern attained a $4 Million Dollar Federal Grant for their new Fire Station.

Maybe his Office can attain something for our Town?

Juggy,

Why do you always have to look to others to take care of our homegrown problems?

Think of all of the money that they town and the taxpayers have saved over the years by ingnoring the DPW for so long. Now it's time to dig a little deeper than some may want to and pay the Piper.

Just A Guy,

They say great minds think a like?

Just the facts, can not get water out of a rock.

The Town just does not have the financial base for something in this $8-$9-$10 Million Dollar price range. If the Town had the financial base would the State give us half our yearly budget in State Aid? I think not, knowing this State!

Juggy,

Where do you get your facts/numbers for this town not having the financial base?

Everyone is pretty much on a fixed income ya know. Just like pretty much every town around here and the rest of the country is blue collar.

The issue is that we the taxpayers and electorate of this town should be allowed to decide if a DPW facility should be built and paid for by us.

WE voted to spend the money to have the study done and now that's it? That should infuriate both sides!

What could that money have paid for? Instead, they just threw it away.

Tom, Jim and Jay now decide what's best for me and my neighbors? Pffft!

As whderv said, the Whitins are gone, we as a community need to stand on our own and make decisions.

Whether it's 8 or 2million, 3 stooges should not have made that decision for me or anyone else in our town. They have failed miserably!

LETCM,

The Town receives half it's yearly budget of $38 Million Dollars in State Aid, approx $19 Million Dollars, tell's you something right their? Do you think we would receive that much State Aid if the economic base was not suggestively rated by the DOR for the Town to receive it?

Someone maybe dropped the Ball or we would have not been in this mess? If someone knew or should have known, a $7 Million dollar price tag for a DPW was an issue for our BOS, correct?

Who knows what was told to HKT, or how their contract with the Town was written? Were they maybe told the Sky was the limit, and the streets of Northbridge are lined with gold? If they were not maybe giving a proper price range all the Towns principals were happy with, then I guess shame on us? We maybe have a $72,000 dollar study but no facility? Maybe we can use it for a big Paperweight, or put it with the rest of the Towns past studies in the cellar of the Town Hall? :D

I guess if you do not like the way certain BOS members voted I guess you do not have to vote for them in the future? I think you may have your Three Stooges compass pointed in the wrong direction. Review this whole set of circumstances and you may have to recalibrate your Three Stooges Compass direction. :D

Juggy,

The only thing it tells me is that Northbridge is pretty much like every other town in the Commonwealth.

This has nothing to do with what "proposal" anyone favors.

The decision should have been up to us, the voters to decide.

I do not have to recalibrate my compass.

They erred, plain and simple...

So the solution is for us to wait for a handout from the State or Federal Government through some "pork" add on to a bill versus the people of this town stepping up and investing in the town they live in? There is NO guarantee of this funding nor is this a quick solution as we could be waiting years to even find out that we can or can't get a grant.

I guess I am the minority as I would gladly take the hit in my property tax to address the needs of the town as in the end it will increase the value of my house as well as everyone else that owns a house in this town.

whderv:

Not a handout most American's pay State and Federal Taxes, just some return locally on those Taxes we pay.

Has the Town ever turned down any Grants? None that I can recall?

The majority of American's are hurting in this Depression/Recession recent reports say most average American's have less then $500.00 dollars in their Banking accounts, after paying their weekly bills.

Sounds like your correct in being in the minority.

Juggy,

If more people chose to take care of their own problems rather than looking to their Uncle Sam for a handout......................................................maybe our taxes wouldn't be so high and maybe we wouldn't need so many politicians.