NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Voters will not be asked to fund an $8 million Department of Public Works facility at the Annual Town Meeting in October.
The Building, Planning and Construction Committee has a “number of issues’’ to examine so it decided to delay a decision until May, committee Chairman Thomas Pilibosian said at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Monday night.
Selectmen agreed with the decision, with most saying they would not support the $8 million proposal made by HKT architects to redevelop the DPW at its current site on Fletcher Street.
At a meeting last week, Pilibosian said HKT has been asked to study whether the former Old Colony Stationery at 371 Douglas Road could be modified to fit DPW needs.
That option is strongly supported by Selectman Jay Athanas. The price tag on that property, which includes a 19,000-square-foot building, was recently reduced from $1.6 million to $995,000, he said.
He estimated another $600,000 in modifications would be needed, costing taxpayers $50 per square foot. The Fletcher Street plan carries a price tag of $450 per square foot.
“Why isn’t there more of a sense of urgency” to purchase the property, Athanas said. “It won’t be there in the spring,’’ he said. He asked that Pilibosian’s committee take a “hard look at a quick pace. It would be ludicrous to let something like this go."
Athanas also suggested that the owners be asked to make the necessary modifications as part of the sales agreement. A private company isn’t required to follow the prevailing wage laws.
“All proposals are back on the table,’’ said Selectman James Marzec. Property in Linwood once considered as a potential DPW site remains on the market, he said.
“That price tag of $8 million; there’s no way the taxpayers are footing that bill,’’ Marzec said. But the town still needs a DPW facility that gets its equipment out of the elements.
Selectman Thomas Melia said he supported the Fletcher Street proposal but never expected the $8 million price tag. “I think we all have egg on our faces,’’ he said.
The Building, Planning and Construction Committee meets Thursday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. HKT is expected to have a report on the Douglas Road property at that time.